LAHORE/ISLAMABAD, April 9: The Punjab government decided on Tuesday to observe two weekly holidays and urged the federal government to convene a meeting of the Council of Common Interests to tackle the problem of loadshedding in the province.
Meanwhile in Islamabad, the caretaker prime minister ordered the finance ministry to immediately release Rs20 billion to ensure a smooth fuel supply to thermal power plants. Mir Hazar Khan Khoso issued the directive at a meeting held to review working of power generation plants in the country.
The meeting was convened after the prime minister took cognisance of media reports about excessive loadshedding. He asked the ministries concerned to thrash out short- and medium-term plans to solve the problem.
The Punjab cabinet at its meeting in Lahore called for an immediate end to unscheduled power cuts and sought consumers’ cooperation for implementing energy-saving measures. It said the duration of power cuts should be uniform across the country.
Caretaker Chief Minister Najam Sethi said he would raise the issue with the prime minister shortly and suggest measures to reduce loadshedding. He said his government would protect rights of the province and asked people to remain peaceful during protests and do not damage public property.
“No one will be allowed to create disturbance, block roads and create inconvenience for citizens in the name of protest,” Mr Sethi warned.
PEACEFUL POLLING: The chief minister said the Punjab government had chalked out a security plan to ensure transparent and peaceful polling and to enforce the code of conduct framed by the Election Commission. He said a ban on display of arms would be enforced strictly in the province.
He asked the inspector general of police (IGP) to train law enforcement personnel for election duty.
CAUSE OF TROUBLE: The immediate cause of increase in loadshedding was disruption in gas supply to the Uch power plant because of sabotage, Arshad Mirza, the Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Water and Power, informed the meeting in Islamabad. The prime minister called for measures to ensure security of power installations and transmission lines.