Issue of prolonged loadshedding in Karachi areas echoes in NA

Published April 24, 2024
Federal Minister for Power Awais Leghari on NA floor on April 23. — NA Facebook
Federal Minister for Power Awais Leghari on NA floor on April 23. — NA Facebook

• KE resorts to 10 hours of loadshedding in Karachi, says Awais Leghari
• Minister believes power theft can’t be resolved without help of provincial govts, law enforcers
• PPP MNA Nabil Gabol accuses KE of overbilling

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Power Awais Leghari on Tuesday admitted on the floor of the National Assembly that the K-Electric (KE) had resorted to loadshedding for an average duration of 10 hours a day in different localities of the metropolis to recover losses due to power theft and that the federal government had planned to engage provincial governments to improve the situation.

“This is an economic loadshedding to recover losses,” said the power minister while responding to a calling attention notice moved by Pakistan Peoples’ Party MNAs from Karachi regarding “unscheduled load-shedding and overbilling” in Karachi, especially in Lyari and Azam Basti.

Mr Leghari said besides 10-hour daily loadshedding, the people of these two localities had to face power outages even for a longer time keeping in view the power theft and losses.

The minister, however, said out of 2,109 feeders in Karachi, 1,500 were facing no loadshedding, while others were subjected to loadshedding according to their loss rates, which meant that there had been no loadshedding on 71 per cent of feeders in Karachi.

Mr Leghari said that he was planning to visit Karachi sometime in the next week to have a meeting with Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, declaring that the power theft issue could not be resolved without the support of the provincial governments and the law enforcement agencies (LEAs).

He also revealed plans to establish a new board aimed at enhancing governance in the sector. The minister mentioned that in Azam Basti, three feeders served 12,200 people, leading to 10-hour loadshedding due to losses.

Efforts were underway to reduce the current loss rate of 38.3 per cent, he added.

Regarding Lyari, the minister detailed that out of 82 feeders, there was no loadshedding on 31, while others were experiencing varying durations of loadshedding based on losses.

Moreover, the minister mentioned ‘proactive’ measures taken by the Sindh government, including setting up over 3,000 mini-camps in collaboration with the KE, to encourage bill payment and cooperation in minimising losses.

The minister said that the people had ‘no habit’ of paying electricity bills and sought the help of elected representatives of Karachi in this regard.

He said that during his visit to Karachi, he would meet the officials of the KE and asked the Karachi MNAs to accompany him to KE offices.

One of the movers, Nabil Gabol alleged that the minister had been provided wrong information by the KE, claiming that there had been loadshedding for up to 18 hours in whole Lyari.

Due to lengthy power outages, he said, the people were also facing water shortages in Lyari.

Mr Gabol accused the KE of overbilling the consumers and questioned hefty salary packages of the KE officials.

“The KE itself is the biggest thief. Its directors are receiving salaries up to Rs4.2 billion. No one is there to question them. Privatisation doesn’t mean that they [KE people] are above the law,” he said.

The minister said that it was the responsibility of Nepra to ensure post-privatisation quality and that he would ask the regulatory body to ensure it.

MNA Asad Alam Niazi was of the view that those paying the bills regularly should not be penalised for the fault of others and that depriving law-abiding citizens of this facility was a violation of their fundamental rights.

Mr Leghari acknowledged that it was a human rights issue, but said that they did not have any mechanism or technology in place to disconnect power supply to individuals without the assistance of the LEAs.

He disclosed that the KE had installed some mechanical devices on transformers to monitor the situation, but the area residents intentionally damaged those devices, thus forcing the KE to switch off the feeders, instead of disconnecting transformers.

In response to a question asked by Mirza Ikhtiar Baig about anti-theft measures so far taken by the government, the minister said that the previous caretaker government had launched a drive in this regard which produced good results in some places whereas it failed in others.

He said his ministry was taking action against those officials of the power companies who were found involved in the power theft.

Published in Dawn, April 24th, 2024

Opinion

Editorial

ICJ rebuke
Updated 26 May, 2024

ICJ rebuke

The reason for Israel’s criminal behaviour is that it is protected by its powerful Western friends.
Hot spells
26 May, 2024

Hot spells

WITH Pakistan already dealing with a heatwave that has affected 26 districts since May 21, word from the climate...
Defiant stance
26 May, 2024

Defiant stance

AT a time when the country is in talks with the IMF for a medium-term loan crucial to bolstering the fragile ...
More pledges
Updated 25 May, 2024

More pledges

There needs to be continuity in economic policies, while development must be focused on bringing prosperity to the masses.
Pemra overreach
25 May, 2024

Pemra overreach

IT seems, at best, a misguided measure and, at worst, an attempt to abuse regulatory power to silence the media. A...
Enduring threat
25 May, 2024

Enduring threat

THE death this week of journalist Nasrullah Gadani, who succumbed to injuries after being attacked by gunmen, is yet...