Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar on Saturday assured the people of Karachi that there would be no "unannounced electricity load shedding" in the city from tomorrow (Sunday) after a decision to increase supply of furnace oil and gas to power utility K-Electric.
He was addressing the media alongside Sindh Governor Imran Ismail and K-Electric Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Moonis Alvi at a protest gathering by the PTI's Karachi chapter against continued load shedding in the metropolis.
Announcing decisions made during a "high-level meeting" of government officials and the power utility earlier today, Umar said:
"The petroleum division has increased the supply of furnace oil for KE and it will be increased further. Currently, 190 million cubic feet of gas is being supplied to KE. This has been increased to 290m cubic feet."
Umar said initially, a few dual-fire units of the power utility would be run on furnace oil, which would later be extended to all dual-fire units. However, the minister said increasing the supply of oil did not mean the petroleum ministry was at fault.
"The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) is the regulatory authority. It completed a hearing today and will give its verdict later.
"Our purpose was to determine how to end unscheduled load shedding in Karachi. We have decided to increase the supply of gas as well as furnace oil to KE," he disclosed.
"[As a result of these decisions] there will be no unannounced load shedding in Karachi from tomorrow."
The minister said it was "unfortunate" that previous governments had signed agreements worth billions of dollars to increase power generation in Pakistan but did not take decisions as to how Karachi could benefit from increased power generation.
'70pc increase in power for Karachi'
Talking about steps the PTI government has taken in this regard, Umar said it had been decided in the past few months that an additional 550 megawatts of energy would be given to Karachi before next summer.
"Then there will be another 800MW increase before the summer of 2022 and another 800MW before the summer of 2023. Collectively, 2,150MW of additional energy will be given to Karachi by the summer of 2023," the minister claimed.
"This will be an almost 70 per cent increase in power generation compared to now," he said.
"KE is a private organisation and previous governments have privatised it and the power generation process. But Karachi has not been privatised," he said.
Umar added that he and the Sindh governor had told the KE chief that the federal government wanted to fully help the power utility to solve problems of the people in Karachi.
"But if you cannot solve them despite help, then we will not look the other way and will use the entire power of law to ensure that people of Karachi are not deprived," he warned.
The minister said that Nepra would release a report within three or four days and place responsibility on who was behind load shedding in the city. Responding to a question about compensation for those who died due to electrocution during last year's monsoon rains, he said Nepra would take a decision on that.
"The Centre is fully ready to help [the authority] implement its decision if needed."
Governor Ismail assured the people that the federal government was taking the electricity problem "very seriously".
"The meeting was very high level and included four federal ministers and MD KE among others," he said. He requested the protesters to end their protest while assuring them that there would be no unannounced load shedding from Monday.
Last month, Nepra had taken notice of complaints regarding continuing unannounced load shedding in Karachi and directed the power utility to submit a detailed report in this regard.
The body had also noted that inflated electricity bills were being charged to consumers.
The power regulatory authority had taken up the issue as many residents took to the streets to protest the power outages, blocking main roads and highways to bring the issue to the attention of the relevant authorities.
The ruling PTI too has launched a protest campaign and staged a sit-in outside the KE head office earlier this week to protest the "atrocities" of the power utility, demanding an end to its monopoly on electricity generation, transmission and distribution and vowing to approach Nepra and the Supreme Court against KE.
For its part, KE had attributed the power outages to fuel shortage, especially shortage of furnace oil, in the country.
"Over 70 per cent of Karachi, including industrial zones, is exempted from [load-shedding]. The ongoing fuel shortage is, however, leading to generation constraints. This has had an impact on K-Electric’s ability to meet the rising electricity demand on account of high temperatures," the power utility had said in a statement earlier.