KE comes under fire in Supreme Court over loadshedding, deaths from electrocution

Updated 12 Aug 2020

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The chief justice expressed resentment over the performance of the power utility and said that prolonged loadshedding was being carried out in the city. — File photo
The chief justice expressed resentment over the performance of the power utility and said that prolonged loadshedding was being carried out in the city. — File photo

KARACHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday said that there should be zero loadshedding in the provincial metropolis and sought a time frame and a detailed report from the K-Electric regarding its power generation capacity, consumption and demand till Thursday.

While heading a three-judge bench, Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed came down hard on the chief executive officer of the KE for prolonged loadshedding and deaths from electrocution in the city and warned that he would also be named in the cases for the incidents of electrocution.

The bench, also comprising Justice Faial Arab and Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan, called record about stay orders granted by the Sindh High Court in the cases of the power utility after the chairman of the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) informed it that KE obtained restraining orders from the high court after the authority took action against it.

The bench asked the Nepra chairman to properly monitor KE and ensure that there should be no loadshedding in any part of the city.

CJP observes KE monopoly should be ended; seeks time frame for zero loadshedding by tomorrow

The chief justice expressed resentment over the performance of the power utility and said that prolonged loadshedding was being carried out in the city and earth wires had been removed causing many incidents of electrocution, especially during rains.

He remarked that the infrastructure of the KE had been replaced and on the verge of collapse due to use of cheap material in order to make money which, he said, was being sent overseas for investment.

The CJP added that the firm that owned KE had become a defaulter in other countries and its management was facing jail terms and fines.

At one stage, the CJP warned to put the name of KE CEO Moonis Alvi on the exit control list and order an audit of the power utility.

The monopoly of the KE should be ended by inviting other companies for a healthy competition, he said, asking the Nepra chairman about the action taken against the power utility.

The Nepra chief said that the actions taken against KE included imposition of a fine of Rs50 million, but it obtained a stay order from the high court.

He further stated that they had granted permission to some companies for power generation, but the KE had approached the court to get restraining orders.

The bench also asked the Nepra chairman to inform it whether there was any alternative arrangement if the licence of the KE was suspended.

The chief justice also asked the lawyer for the KE that over 20 people had been electrocuted and they were obtaining stay orders.

The counsel claimed that most of the people died inside their homes. The chief justice said that the electric faults caused their death.

Justice Arab said that people were dying on the roads and streets due to electrocution since the earth wires had been removed.

The KE CEO submitted that around $1.5m had been invested during the past 10 years. The chief justice remarked that the losses had exceeded the investment amount.

The CEO further maintained that the line losses in 2010 were 42 per cent; the utility managed to bring the losses down to 26pc. He added that they had not paid a single penny to the shareholders of the KE for the last three to four years.

Mr Alvi further said that they had made investments in Lyari and Korangi in order to reduce the line losses. However, the chief justice said that they had caused a huge loss to the organisation by replacing silver wires.

The CEO denied sending money abroad and claimed that no loadshedding was carried out in 73pc areas of the city.

The chief justice asked the KE chief that there were many complaints of overbilling against them and ruled that there should be zero loadshedding in the city.

During the proceedings, the Sindh advocate general informed the bench that the KE had also cut off power supply to the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board though the federal government assured it of payment, adding that as per an agreement, the provincial government was also paying the dues.

The chief justice remarked that the provincial government was purchasing vehicles worth billions of rupees and why they had not been paying the outstanding dues.

The provincial law officer said that these vehicles were meant for police. The chief justice remarked that buses and ambulances might be purchased to save the lives of the people instead of air-conditioned vehicles.

300 billboards removed

The bench directed the Karachi commissioner to take action in accordance with law against those officials who had allowed installation of billboards.

On Tuesday, the commissioner informed the bench that around 300 billboards and hoardings had been removed across the city following the directives of the bench issued on Monday.

The bench had directed the commissioner to immediately remove all the billboards and hoardings from public spaces and properties and also take them out of private properties if found dangerous for public.

Meanwhile, the bench called record of a case from the trial court after an aging man informed it his son was allegedly abducted by the police for ransom and then killed.

Umar Daraz submitted that he was a resident of Baldia Town and his son, Saeed Umar, was on bail in a case, but the police took him away from their house and demanded ransom against his release. Later, they killed him, he alleged.

Published in Dawn, August 12th, 2020