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LAHORE: Though power distribution companies are observing scheduled and unscheduled loadshedding on a daily basis across the country, the situation in the Punjab capital is getting worse where residents are facing outages for more than 12 hours.

The situation in rural areas is critical with up to 16 hours outages.

In addition to the scheduled loadshedding of four hours in urban and six in rural areas, Lahorites continue to suffer from more than eight hours long forced shutdowns whenever the Lahore Electric Supply Company (Lesco) receives instructions from the National Power Control Centre (NPCC)—a department of the National Transmission and Dispatch Company Limited (NTDCL).

“What can we do when we have an allocation of only 2,000MW against the Lesco demand of about 3,500MW. Since four-hour loadshedding is being observed in Lahore and other urban areas, we also continue carrying out forced shutdowns for hours in parallel with the documented outages,” a Lesco official told Dawn on Monday.

From Friday to Monday, the Lesco continued shutting down several grid stations in the city for forced outages after being advised by the NPCC from Islamabad.

“The situation is worst in Lahore, a city of over 12m people and we are also upset at the situation since we have to face the public,” the official said.

He admitted that the officials were finding it hard to deal with the situation in the areas, including Township, Johar Town, Baghbanpura, Gulberg, Bund Road, Multan Road, Thokar, Batapur, Shadbagh, Shahdara and Samanabad, where the residents continue to complain to the officials on phone or in person about the outages.

Talking to Dawn, a consumer criticised the government for making tall claims of ending power loadshedding.

“It seems that the government has failed to fulfill the promises it has been making with the nation since it took over after the May 2013 election. The PM should take notice of the situation immediately and ensure uninterrupted electricity supply to Lahore and other mega cities of the country’s biggest province,” says Dilshad, a resident of Township. “The electricity we are being provided in Lahore is not sufficient even to charge our back-up power supply systems,” he added.

A senior Lesco official claimed that the situation would improve soon. “Till Monday afternoon, there was scheduled and unscheduled loadshedding in Lahore and other areas of Lesco. But the situation improved in the evening after the power generation (in total) increased to over 13,500MW. And it will improve further after addition of almost 700MW from the Bhikki Power Plan, being run on a trial basis these days, into the system,” Lesco Chief Executive Officer Syed Wajid Ali Kazmi said and added that all the departments concerned of the Ministry of Water and Power were trying hard to provide electricity to the consumers for the maximum hours.

However, the claims proved wrong as just when this report was being filed at night, Lesco had shut down about 12 grid stations, suspending power supply in many areas, including Badami Bagh, Johar Town, Qartaba Chowk and Gulshan-i-Ravi.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has called a special meeting of the cabinet committee on energy today (Tuesday).

“The PM will chair the meeting in which various important decisions will be made. It is expected that the government will officially announce to end forced shutdowns and enhance the loadshedding hours so that the people could know about the electricity timings and set their routine business accordingly,” an NTDCL official said.

Published in Dawn, April 18th, 2017