LAHORE/ISLAMABAD/KARACHI - The smooth electricity supply has become a far dream for electricity consumers in Pakistan as WAPDA resorted to an average of 14 to 18 hours loadshedding, depending on the different localities, throughout the country on Friday as the electricity shortfall touched 4905 MW. Rural people who pay heavy bills alongwith number of taxes to the electric supply distribution companies (DISCOs), were hit hard by facing longer intervals of power cut-off up to three hours at a stretch, bearing the brunt of utility's inefficiency, which has shifted the blame on the curtailment in water releases from dams. Meanwhile,four Independent Power Producers (IPPs) have stopped ,adding, electricity to the PEPCO system. Talking to The Nation, the sources said that the DISCOs were no more in command in providing electricity after the record shortfall hit the country while the National Transmission Control Centre (NTC) after taking command observes more than 14 intervals of power stoppage of an hour within 24 hours despite the claims that 6 hour power supplies cut-off would be observed on feeders at a time on the system. DISCOs do not command the confidence of their subscribers due to their poor quality of service. Consumers are often facing unannounced loadshedding for long intervals in many parts of the country. In the rural areas particularly, consumers have to wait for days, sometimes weeks, for restoration of electricity, especially if any damage or breakage in the lines, transformers occurs interrupting the transmission and distribution system of the DISCOs, the sources said. The Lahore Electric Supply Company (LESCO) has initiated different loadshedding schedule by rotating the daily schedule of the alternative areas. The LESCO sources confirmed that that the company started revising the loadshedding schedule on daily basis. They said that the company had been putting loadshedding pressure on typical feeders and provide some relief by next day. The sources said that outstanding payment of IPPs amounted to Rs 70 billion, which the IPPs have been raising with WAPDA, claiming that they were kept in darkness, as not a single among them was taken into confidence during the whole process. The sources said that the delay in payment to Pakistan State Oil (PSO) had also put the PSO in serious financial crisis, which supplies furnace oil to public power generation companies. They said that PSO was in serious financial crisis following the non or partial payment of its dues by the PEPCO. They said that the National Energy Conservation Plan apparently could not take off as Pakistan electric Power Company (PEPCO) could hardly manage to save 97 MW in its bid to overcome 4000 MW power shortage after its appeal seeking closure of shops by 8 pm. The shopkeepers of almost all the busy shopping areas throughout the country did not close their shops by 8 pm and continued their routine business as there was no notification issued by the govt. All the 16 Independent Power Producers (IPPs) have been ignoring the govt directions issued time and again for maintaining 21 days furnace oil stock, however, they are keep on running their units with the furnace oil stocks only for couple of days consumption owing to the delay in their outstanding payments, the sources said. The govt has served notices on Independent Power Producers (IPPs) for not maintaining required furnace oil stocks to ensure uninterrupted power generation in crisis-like situation, however, the lack of follow up on part of the govt inducing the IPPs to keep on running their units on almost daily basis. The sources said that the govt served notices on IPPs on December 31 seeking explanation for failing to honour contractual obligation of maintaining furnace oil stocks inventory for their requirement for power generation. IPPs as per contract are required to maintain furnace oil inventory for minimum 21 days. Report from Islamabad: Contrary to the claims of the government that loadshedding would go down after the peak summer season, masses in general are being subjected to increased, unannounced, and discriminatory electricity outages. Minister for Water and Power Raja Pervez Ashraf, when contacted, told The Nation an entirely different story that various factors coinciding together had caused recent troubles that he claimed would be resolved in the coming few days. According to the minister, the sabotage of Zamzama Gas pipeline by the terrorists caused reduction in power supply by nearly 1000 to 1500 MW at once. Secondly, the Minister also mentioned the impact of recent strike of the oil tankers. Among other factors the Minister counted problem in generator of the Bin Qasim power plant, closure of KANUP for refuelling that have accumulated in terms of temporal outage of electricity. The minister vowed to improve the situation in a few days preferably before the beginning of the holy month of Ramazan. "We wish to facilitate the people as much as the Government could during the holy month," the minister maintained. Earlier The Nation investigation in the capital revealed that the leaders and the public have different fate for the electricity load-shedding. It revealed that most of the influential personalities and outfits were not being subjected to the load-shedding while the entire burden was being put on the commoners. The industry is shutting down in the country due to lack of power. The elite and the leaders do not stand with the poor people of Pakistan and are facilitating themselves only. F-8 a sector in Islamabad where most of the leaders own residences including Asif Ali Zardari, Co-Chairman of Pakistan Peoples Party is free from the pain of load-shedding. At the same time other areas of the city are the victim of unscheduled load-shedding, TheNation reliably learnt. A businessman Zubair Malik, owner of a printing press in Blue Area Islamabad informed TheNation that he personally and other printing press owners in the area were badly affected by the unscheduled load- shedding. He said that the Government had announced a 4 hours time of load- shedding in 24 hours but most of the time they do not get electricity for more than 8 hours. They were unable to fulfil their commitments to their clients about their orders, so they were likely to lose their clientele, as such it was an embarrassing situation for them. He insisted that the areas where industrial activities were being carried out, should be exempted from load-shedding instead of exempting the elite's residential areas. A discriminatory treatment had been adopted between the twin cities, Rawalpindi and Islamabad, as in Rawalpindi the electric supply situation was even worst than Islamabad. The people living in  different areas of city were facing 8 to 10 hours load-shedding despite  Government's announcement of 4 hours power outage, TheNation reliably learnt. People living in those areas demanded that they should be provided equal rights and they also said that they condemn this discriminatory attitude of Government Departments towards them. Prolonged and unannounced power cuts in the city and cantonment areas have made the lives of people miserable prompting the residents to resort to lighting arrangements of Stone Age. Almost all localities have plunged into darkness as load-shedding continues to persist in the absences of any solid steps by the regime in this regard to give the masses a sigh of relief. The worst load-shedding hit areas include Tariqabad, Morgah,Gulzar-e-Quaid, Arya Mohallah, Bakra Mandi, Tench Bhata,  Adyala Road, New Lalazar and Dhamyal Road, where power cuts, especially in the middle of the night, are frequently causing much panic to the residents of the areas. Little children and school going students are the worst sufferers from the menace and many of them even fell ill due to lack of rest as they could not sleep properly in the nights. Adnan a resident of Dhok Syedan told The Nation that their studies were suffering a lot due to the constant load-shedding and they feared that they would not be able to achieve their goals in their studies since they did not find enough time in the absence of enough power supply in this hot and humid season. Residents of the affected areas said the long duration load-shedding had ruined their life and destroyed their businesses. Ahmed Jamal, who runs a photo lab on Adiala Road, remarked that IESCO switched off electricity whenever they liked and they had to suffer great losses in their business. Some people also complained that this unvarying power cuts had forced the people to buy hand fans and candles, symbols of old dark ages in this era of space and nuclear technology.   The power cuts are also badly affecting the traffic signals resulting in the long traffic jams and long queues of vehicles could be witnessed on all the major roads. People said that they often lodged their complaints with IESCO authorities but nothing happened to the plight of residents. Talking to The Nation, IESCO Chief Operations Engineer Faqir Mohammad informed that faulty generators at Lalpur and Uch grid stations were not only causing inconvenience to the residents of Rawalpindi and Islamabad, but also those of Lahore, Faisalabad, Multan, Gujranwala and Gujrat. He said IESCO engineers were working round the clock to rectify the fault. IESCO Adyala Road Sub-Division Officer (SDO) Mohammad Rafiq said the long duration of load-shedding at Tariqabad, Dhamyal Road and Adyala Road was due to a fire at the Kamalabad grid station last year. He said IESCO was setting up a new grid station at Chakri Road that would be completed by the end of September, adding that after the rectification of the fault, those areas would have routine load- shedding. The SDO said at Adyala Road, the six to seven-hour load-shedding in the morning was due to the shifting of power poles. He said the poles were being shifted due to the road's widening. People demanded that the Government should take urgent measures to control the menace and provide a sigh of relief in the near future. Report from Karachi: The hours-long unscheduled loadshedding continued to create serious problems for the people in Karachi on Friday when several areas remained without electricity. In some parts of the city, the consumers had to suffer repeatedly from two-hours long loadshedding after every two hours that paralysed normal life in the city. The power scarcity has increased up to 800 MWs and the citizens remained without electricity while the duration of loadshedding has reached to 12 hours. The power shortage deepens as Unit 1 and 3 at Bin Qasim Power Plant remained non-functional. The actual quantity of electricity available from Bin Qasim was 645MWs on Friday. The operations at KANUP, Korangi Gas Turbines, Korangi Thermal and DHA distribution also remained suspended. All areas in the city suffered due to this unscheduled power outage. Consumers told that they were facing worst kind loadshedding due to a decline in power-generation capacity of the KESC while neither federal nor the provincial government had taken this issue seriously. Meanwhile, Speaker Sindh Assembly Nisar Khuhro and Taj Haidar met the KESC high officials and expressed deep concern regarding the miserable condition of loadshedding in the city. The authorities assured the delegation that this bleak situation would be resolved in a few days. The consumers maintained that long duration of loadshedding coupled with inflated electricity bills was a cruel joke with the people. Sources said that hike in tariff could further inflate the utility bills by 40 per cent. People have demanded that the government should take effective steps towards overcoming power shortage by increasing generation. On the other hand, KESC has not spent even a penny in power-generating sector after its privatisation. Resultantly, the gap between the supply and has widened sharply during the recent months. The business activities have also been badly affected due to hours-long and unscheduled loadshedding. People have demanded the provision of smooth and uninterrupted power supply in order to provide relief to the industrial sector. Meanwhile, the KESC officials have blamed WAPDA and the SSGC for unprecedented loadshedding in Karachi, while the concerned authorities of these two departments held the KESC administration responsible for this nasty situation.