THE menace of loadshedding has reared its head yet again. The brief respite during Ramadan, allowing the people to breathe a sigh of relief, was broken by countrywide blackout spells extending to over eight hours per day. The explanation by the PEPCO chief that the loadshedding was the result of a power shortfall of 1500MW the company was experiencing, seems like another of the excuses that the authorities usually come up with. Another reason he gave was that the shortage of water in dams aggravated the power crisis, but it appears like an attempt to brush the problem under the carpet and is hard to buy. Dry dams are just one aspect of the problem; the country produces more than 80 per cent of its electricity from other sources like oil and gas. The government ought to realise that things could get out of control if it continued its makeshift approach. At present the Independent Power Producers, whose share in electricity generation is quite large, have threatened to quit providing services if their bills are not paid. It is obvious that the government's ability is handicapped by the liquidity crunch, but then it would become extremely difficult for the IPPs to keep working without receiving their dues. Meanwhile, the demand and supply situation continues to worsen. It is worth pointing out that the energy requirement has shot up 20 percent this year alone. The PEPCO chief has assured that the crisis would be over by August 2009. Given the government's half-hearted, snail-paced approach, there does not appear much light at the end of the tunnel. The plan includes bringing in new IPPs. However, the past record of how the government has been doing business with the existing ones would, in all probability, serve as a disincentive to them. Reportedly, 15 new IPPs have been asked to bail the country out of the mess. It is a pity that the Thar Coal Project, initiated in 1993, could not go any further due to frequent government dismissals. It should be taken out of the cold storage at the earliest. The energy reserves discovered in the Thar area are estimated to be greater than those of Iran and Saudi Arabia put together, and could generate a huge amount of electricity which would allow the country to export the surplus as well. We should also explore the useful option of exploiting alternative sources of energy. We have the example of the West, that is now rapidly turning to solar, wind and other sources for energy generation. The authorities should end their present piecemeal outlook and must address the issue on a war footing.