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ISLAMABAD: After being unable to fulfil its earlier promise of ridding the country of power outages by November 2017, the government announced on Sunday that it had managed to ensure “zero loadshedding” in some parts of the country.

Under the new arrangement, more than 15 million power consumers will not experience loadshedding in their respective areas.

“More than 5,000 feeders in the country will turn into ‘zero-load­shed­ding’ feeders from tonight,” Minister for Power Sardar Awais Ahmed Leghari told a press conference on Sunday.

“Presently, 236 feeders out of 8,600 feeders are observing zero-loadshedding, but from tonight 63pc will become loadshedding-free,” he added.

Minister for Power Sardar Awais Ahmed Leghari says over 60 per cent of all feeders will be free from power cuts, benefiting 15m consumers

He claimed that 5,297 feeders would become loadshedding-free in the first phase. “The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is committed to fulfilling its election promise to end loadshedding in the country,” the minister said, indicating that the government intended to reap as much benefit from the recent cut in power outages ahead of the next general elections, scheduled for next year.

According to official documents shared with media personnel by the power ministry, loadshedding will continue in areas where line losses are over the 10pc mark.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi recently claimed that Pakistan would be loadshedding-free by November, 2017. Even the government’s power policy, formulated in 2013, was also based on a commitment to make Pakistan loadshedding-free by December, 2017.

The second power generation policy, announced in 2015, envisioned power tariffs being reduced to a single digit, i.e. not more than Rs9 per unit, and the elimination of loadshedding in 2018. However, average electricity charges at present are said to be around Rs12.5 per unit.

Giving details of distribution companies (Discos) who would see zero loadshedding, the minister said that 1,227 feeders of the Lahore Electric Power Supply Company (Lesco), 748 of the Gujranwala Electric Power Company (Gepco), 896 of the Faisalabad Electric Supply Company (Fesco), 710 of the Islamabad Electric Supply Company (Iesco), 763 of Multan Electric Power Company (Mepco), 309 of the Peshawar Electric Supply Company (Pesco), 204 of the Hyderabad Electric Supply Company (Hesco), 61 of the Quetta Electric Supply Company (Qesco) and 29 feeders in the tribal areas would experience no power outages.

Mr Leghari said that zero-load­shed­ding would be ensured and progress would be continually monitored. He also announced that the urban-rural differ­en­tiation for loadshedding would be abolished to ensure the equal distri­bution of electricity among consumers.

The minister said 16,477 megawatts of electricity were being generated in the country on Sunday, with a 2,700MW surplus.

Published in Dawn, December 4th, 2017