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Massive power outage hits Sindh, Balochistan cities

Updated August 18, 2018

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DARKNESS envelops Karachi amid a blackout that extended to other Sindh cities as well as parts of Balochistan on Friday evening.—White Star
DARKNESS envelops Karachi amid a blackout that extended to other Sindh cities as well as parts of Balochistan on Friday evening.—White Star

KARACHI: Many cities in Sindh and Balochistan, including Karachi, plunged into darkness after the 500kV Extra High Tension (EHT) line in Jamshoro tripped on Friday evening.

Although the authorities were not clear about the reason behind the recent EHT tripping, a spokesperson for the K-Electric told Dawn that it could take “five to six hours” to restore electricity to Karachi.

The fault crippled the power supply system of the K-Electric, which also provides electricity to Hub in Balochistan, as well as the Hyderabad Electric Supply Company (Hesco) which provides electricity to Hyderabad, Nawabshah, Thatta, Badin, Mirpurkhas, etc.

“Right now we have information that the EHT line tripped little after 10:30pm,” said the KE spokesperson.

A Hesco source said that the teams of the National Transmission & Despatch Company (NTDC) and the power utility were busy locating the area of fault and it could take hours to fix the problem.

Almost the whole of Karachi was facing a nearly complete blackout. Other cities of the province including Hyderabad, Mirpurkhas, Tando Muhammad Khan, Badin, Thatta and some other towns were also facing a similar situation till late in the night.

500kV Extra High Tension line trips in Jamshoro

The fresh power breakdown came as a grim reminder of the May 2017 episode when almost half of Sindh, including Karachi, plunged into darkness due to almost a similar fault.

“Various parts of the city are experiencing an outage due to EHT tripping,” said the KE spokesperson. He said that the fresh breakdown originated at the national grid.

A KE source said that the disruption caused tripping of its key Bin Qasim power plant as well as several grid stations causing a blackout in most of the city areas, including the so-called security red zone.

“NTDC protection and maintenance engineers have moved to the Jamshoro grid,” a Hesco official said, adding that both circuits from 500kV Jamshoro grid had tripped.

The two circuits were feeding electricity to Karachi and some other Sindh cities, he explained.

In a late-night development, a KE official claimed that the partial restoration of electricity in Karachi had begun, but it would take five to six hours to energise all the grid stations.

Apart from the recent fault, it was the second such experience for Karachiites in less than a week as only on August 11 the city had suffered a massive power breakdown due to the tripping of the same EHT lines.

It all came against the backdrop of a tug of war between the power and gas utilities — K-Electric and Sui Southern Gas Company Ltd — which had been unable to settle their differences over gas supply for power generation despite the federal government’s facilitating intervention about five months ago. It further fans fears of an impending power crisis in the country’s commercial capital.

In March 2018, the people of Karachi suffered almost a month of prolonged power outages even in those days when the mercury crossed 40 degrees Celsius due to the infighting by the two utilities. The K-Electric called the insufficient gas supply from the SSGC as the reason behind the power crisis that had made life miserable.

On the other hand, the SSGC rejected the K-Electric’s claim and called the power utility defaulter of approximately Rs80 billion and yet, the gas company had been supplying KE with good quantum of gas only in the best interest of people of Karachi. The issue was temporarily resolved after almost a month of power crisis when the then prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi intervened and asked the SSGC to resume supply to the K-Electric.

Published in Dawn, August 18th, 2018