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LAHORE: People in many urban and rural areas of Punjab witnessed worst power outages on Thursday after the supply from Mangla squeezed to minimum level, leaving three major distribution companies with no option but to observe forced shutdown besides scheduled loadshedding for hours.

The situation appeared to be worst in Lahore and its adjoining districts where consumers continued to face loadshedding for eight to 10 hours in urban and 10 to 16 hours in rural areas from Wednesday evening to Thursday night due to a power breakdown, overloaded system, shortfall and other issues.

“There was minimum generation from Mangla that feeds the entire service areas of Gujranwala Electric Power Company (Gepco), Islamabad Electric Supply Company (Iesco) and Lahore Electric Supply Company.

“Since there was no supply, the shortfall of these companies increased. Similarly their demand also shot up to a maximum level due to hot and humid weather, thus making the system overloaded and leaving the Discos with no option but to observe forced outages besides scheduled loadshedding,” a senior official of the National Transmission and Despatch Company told Dawn.

As the people continued suffering from worst loadshedding the entire day, they also faced power tripping, fluctuation, low voltage in Lahore, Kasur, Nankana, Sheikhupura, Okara, Gujaranwala, Sialkot, Jhelum, Narowal, Gujrat, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Attock and other districts.

“We spent the entire night and day without electricity,” Nazir, a resident of Ferozpur road (Kahna), told this reporter.

“We spent almost full night without light. And the day was too terrible since we witnessed loadshedding on an hourly basis,” Imran, a resident of Johar Town, told Dawn.

Since the situation in several other residential and commercial areas of Lahore was also worst, the irritated consumers reportedly blocked Ferozepur Road near Kahna. They chanted slogans against Lesco and the interim government for their failure in providing uninterrupted electricity supply to consumers.

On the other hand, the official sources in the NTDC said the total power shortfall in the country surged to 2,100MW on Thursday. “At 7:45pm, the total demand and generation was 21,900MW and 19,800MW respectively, thus there was a gap of 2,100MW in demand and supply. The 19,800MW included 5,800MW (hydel), 1,600MW (state-owned generation companies), 916MW (nuclear), 10,594MW (independent power producers), 780MW (wind) and 110MW (bagasse),” reads an internal brief report.

It said Lesco and Gepco faced a shortfall of 400MW and 140MW, respectively. There were various reasons behind the increased loadshedding. These include system overloading because of reduction in outflow indent by Irsa from 30,000 to 10,000 cusec resulting in reduction of Mangla generation from 800 to 200MW.

“Similarly the technical faults and overloading of 500kV Sheikhupura grid and its 220kV circuit, 220kV grid (Nokhar, Gepco) were also among the reasons behind this situation,” said the report.

Till filing of the report at 9pm, loadshedding coupled with tripping, fluctuation in Lahore and its adjoining districts continued. None of the senior officials from Lesco management and operations was available for comments.

Published in Dawn, August 3rd, 2018