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LAHORE: Contrary to the government claims, loadshedding is distressing people across the country as the shortfall crossed 6,000MW on Wednesday.

There is up to eight-hour loadshedding in urban areas and it exceeds 12 hours in rural areas. The situation has worsened with the rise in mercury in the last few days, also triggering water shortage in many areas.

Besides loadshedding, there are frequent complaints about power tripping, low voltage and fluctuation. It all makes it difficult for people to run home appliances.

“Frequent power cuts or loadshedding, low voltage, tripping etc have made things difficult. The situation is particularly distressing for the last three days and seems to have gone out of the control of the government,” says Naseer, a resident of a housing society along Raiwind Road.

At state-run schools, children are facing a great deal of inconvenience. “The situation has become intolerable in schools where the young students are forced to study without light for hours. The weather conditions are also becoming a source of illnesses,” says a teacher of a primary school in Lahore.

According to a senior official of the National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC), the total generation (from hydel and thermal -- both IPPs and state-owned generation companies) in peak hours in afternoon ranged between 15,000 and 16,000MW whereas the demand crossed 21,000MW. But in evening and night hours, the generation touched a figure of 16,500MW with a demand of 21,000MW on Wednesday,” said Mr Ilyas Ahmed, General Manager of NTDC’s National Power Control Centre. “On Tuesday, the demand even touched 22,000MW,” he added.

He claimed that it was for the first time that Gencos, which always produce generation below 2,000MW, crossed the figure of 3,000MW. “It is all due to good maintenance of the Gencos by the authorities,” he said.

However, a senior official of a distribution company said the demand reached 22,000MW whereas the generation hovered around 15,000MW. Thus, the shortfall surged up to 7,000MW in peak hours,” he claimed.

In Lahore, he said, Lesco was provided around 3,000MW under an allocated quota, while its demand crossed 4,200MW. If the heatwave persists in the next few days, the demand might cross 5,000MW.

He said the situation (particularly related to low voltage and tripping) would not improve until the completion of 500kV grid station in Bhaiphero (near Lahore) and other transmission/grid station projects.

Published in Dawn, May 11th, 2017