ISLAMABAD, May 14: The federal cabinet has decided that all markets in the country will close by 9pm and clocks will be moved forward by an hour (GMT+6) from June 1 till the end of August to save energy during the peak summer season.

After the adjustment in the Pakistan Standard Time, sunrise in Islamabad will be at about 6am instead of 5am and sunset at about 8pm.

Similar moves to introduce ‘daylight saving time’ in the country have failed twice in the past.

In a special meeting on the energy crisis held here on Wednesday, the cabinet decided that international bids would be invited for generating 1,200 megawatts (MW) of electricity on a fast-track basis.

The industrial zones will observe scattered off days (on a rotation basis) and air-conditioners in all government offices will be switched off from 8am to 11am. Half of the streetlights will remain off during the three months.

The government will import 10 million energy-saving bulbs.

The country would face a shortage of 4,000MW during the summer, a far worse situation than it experienced last year, as a result of a 50 per cent (2,500MW) reduction in hydroelectric power generation because of less water in rivers and slower melting of snow, Water and Power Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf told journalists after the meeting.

He said that international bids for power generation would be offered at the current rates of the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) to attract investment. The offer will be closed as soon as the government achieves the target of 1,200MW.

The minister said the tendering and production process for power generation normally took at least three years but the government had decided to accomplish the task within a year and a half.

“If this energy generation and conservation plan is accomplished we will be able to get rid of loadshedding by the end of 2009,” he said.

He said a barge-based power plant would be imported to meet the need of Karachi and 1,200MW being used by the metropolis would be provided to other cities.

“We need to take tough decisions for power conservation,” Mr Ashraf said.

In reply to a question, the minister said the government would make efforts for the recovery of Rs207 billion various government departments and institutions owed to Wapda. He said an economically healthy Wapda will be able to function more efficiently.

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