KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah has urged Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to order the Sui Southern Gas Company to ensure “uninterrupted supply” of 276 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) gas to K-Electric to provide relief to people of Karachi from prolonged power cuts and unannounced loadshedding.
In a letter to the PM, CM Shah took up the issue of “sudden reduced natural gas supply” to KE by the SSGC, which resulted in reduction in generation by gas-based power plants and caused additional 10-hour loadshedding during the prevailing harsh weather, officials said on Saturday.
Quoting the KE management, the CM said the power utility was receiving merely 90mmcfd which was insufficient to optimally run the gas-based power plants, which required at least 190mmcfd.
“This unfortunate situation is happening when Karachi is in the grip of unusually severe heatwave and KE consequently has resorted to more than 10 hours of loadshedding across the city, including industry and even the exempted areas are experiencing significant load shed,” he stated.
Suggests a body to resolve payment issues between KE and SSGC
He informed the prime minister that an identical situation had occurred in May last year when the absence of a gas supply agreement (GSA) and payment defaults by KE were cited as possible reasons.
“KE claims that SSGC is reluctant to sign the GSA in the light of ECC [Economic Coordination Committee] decision ie allocation of 276mmcfd for KE power plants whereas KE is regularly paying the current bills of SSGC,” wrote the chief minister.
Mr Shah told the PM the increased loadshedding in Karachi was highly alarming especially due to unusually high temperatures of over 40 degrees Celsius.
“SSGCL’s intransigent approach has severely affected residential, commercial and industrial consumers, including Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB). This may also have serious implications on law and order situation in the city,” he warned.
He requested the prime minister to direct the SSGCL to act in accordance with the ECC decision and take holistic view of the situation rather than reducing gas supply to KE.
Mr Shah urged the prime minister to direct SSGCL that uninterrupted supply of 276mmcfd should be ensured to KE to provide relief to people of Karachi from the unannounced power outages, physical suffering and mental agony during upcoming summer.
He also requested the prime minister to constitute a committee comprising representatives from the federal and provincial governments and the two utilities to resolve the payment claims of the two companies.
Visiting US diplomat calls on CM
CM Shah met US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia Alice G. Wells and discussed matters relating to mutual interest with her.
Acting US Consul General John Warner was also present.
The chief minister and the visiting diplomat agreed to work together for non-formal education. The American diplomat was quoted as saying her government wanted to support the Sindh government to provide clean water to its people.
The CM said there was dire need of desalination plants in Karachi and his government was working on a plan related to it.
Published in Dawn, April 1st, 2018