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6,500MW shortfall sweeps over country

LAHORE, June 25: As the country sizzled in pre-monsoon sweltering heat, the electricity demand also swelled beyond 18,500MW against a paltry generation of 12,000MW, forcing power mangers to resort to around 18 hour loadshedding in the cities and even more for the rural feeders.

According to power planners, 12,000MW generation was achieved late on Tuesday, when some plants, which were closed during the day, were managed back on line. Otherwise, the generation figure for the better part of the day was 11,300MW.

Reports from the most of rural areas indicated up to 20 hours loadshedding on Tuesday as the deficit increased beyond 6,500MW.

According to an official of the National Transmission and Dispatch Company, the current crisis is rooted in two causes: lack of money and severe mismanagement. None of the power company has acquired money. “The government is riveted on retiring huge circular debt and fresh oil purchases are not on its mind. This preference has put over 3,500MW generation capacity off line. Out of 12,000MW generation, around 50 per cent is coming from hydel side. It could have been total disaster without it. To make the matter worse, some gas fields went out of operation and took down some plants with them,” he claimed.

“There are two people, who are heading the sector and both of them are not utility men,” says a former head of Pakistan Electric Power Company. One of them is former caretaker minister for water and power, who was inducted as advisor. A pharmacist by profession, he has total three months experience of the sector. The other guy, current head of Pepco, is on deputation from Nespak. Both of them have severe limitations, which are being tested by the severity of the crisis. This is what partly explains the problem, its depth and extent, he said and advised: “Sooner the government brings professionals in, the better it would be. But it must ensure that new heads must be utility people, who have relevant experience. New heads of the companies should not be the ones who get training on job. Otherwise, the crisis would only worsen.”

Meanwhile, the city of Lahore witnessed some power protests. Though most of them, as per the claims of Lahore Electric Supply Company were against burning transformers rather than loadshedding, but they also conceded that protests against loadshedding may also start in next 24 hours if situation does not improve. On Tuesday, six protests – Wapda Town, Shahnoor Studios, Macleod Road, Karen Hospital, Circular Road and Satu Katla – were reported. No loss of property or life was reported.