ISLAMABAD: The government on Tuesday faced an embarrassing situation in the National Assembly when it received harsh criticism from its own members on the issue of loadshedding in various parts of the country, particularly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province where the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) has been ruling for six years.
The issue came under discussion when the house took up a calling attention notice that had been moved by four members of the PTI from KP, inviting the attention of the Minister for Energy Hammad Azhar to the “shortage of transformers and other electrical equipment resulting in loadshedding in KP, causing grave concern among the public”.
The notice had been moved by Junaid Akbar Khan from Malakand, Imran Khattak from Nowshera, Sher Akbar Khan from Buner and Gul Zafar Khan from Bajaur.
When the movers talked about loadshedding in their respective constituencies, MNA from Peshawar Noor Alam Khan blasted the government not only on the issue of loadshedding, but also price hike.
The opposition members kept on thumping desks throughout Mr Khan’s speech, making Minister for Energy Azhar angry. The minister while responding to the MNA alleged that he had delivered the speech for the galleries.
The MNA from Peshawar said the minister did not have correct information as the officials of his ministry and power companies provided him the wrong information. He said on the one hand the government was charging Rs34 per unit from the people and on the other hand people were not getting electricity.
Mr Khan said loadshedding and price hike were the two major issues being faced by the people. He said the MNAs could not go to their constituents as they “abused” the MNAs when they had no electricity.
“We are here to serve the people of Pakistan. We are not rulers and should not act as rulers,” he said.
He added there was loadshedding of 22 to 24 hours in some areas. Loadshedding was done in the areas where recovery was slow and electricity was being stolen, according to the government.
He said how the power companies could send the bills to the people with arrears when there was no electricity and no meters were installed. He said that many MNAs had helped the power companies in getting the meters installed in the areas which had been “no-go areas” for them.
He said not only in Peshawar, but there was no electricity in the whole KP and even in Sindh and Balochistan and transformers that had been installed in the year 1955 were overloaded.
The MNA from Peshawar also questioned the policy of providing free electricity to the officials of power companies when there was a shortage of it. He also criticised the government for not filling up vacancies in the power sector.
In response to Mr Khan’s speech, Minister for Energy Azhar as usual blamed the previous two governments for the present situation in the country. He said the PTI government was not responsible for wrongdoings of the previous regimes.
He alleged that no money was invested by the PML-N and the PPP on infrastructure to address the issue of loadshedding in the country. He said expensive contracts were signed in power sectors during last 10 years and the PTI government had to renegotiate them.
Moreover, he alleged that political appointments were made by the previous governments. He said the government was committed to improving the transmission system.
Mr Azhar said Pakistan would have 50 per cent extra electricity in 2023 but the country would have to pay Rs1500 billion annually due to the expensive contracts which were signed by the PML-N and PPP governments. He said Pakistan could produce 30,000MW electricity but the transmission system could hardly supply 24,000MW.
Earlier, responding to the calling attention notice, Mr Azhar said the federal government was providing additional 550MW to K-Electric to mitigate the suffering of residents of Karachi. He said 350MW was being supplied to K-Electric even though the utility owed billions to the government.
Amid opposition’s slogans of “liar”, the minister said that the power situation was gradually improving in Karachi.
Published in Dawn, June 9th, 2021