LAHORE, April 8: As demand-supply gap increases, the power distribution companies in Punjab have decided to cut supplies to the textile industry on 11kv independent feeders from 6pm to midnight every day for an indefinite period.

A Wapda official told this reporter on Monday the supplies would be restored as soon as production improves, refusing to give a definite date.

Meanwhile, the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) has resented the decision, saying the industry was receiving warnings from distribution companies of complete shutdown for an indefinite period.

“Faisalabad industry is already without electricity as we talk,” Aptma chairman Ahsan Bashir told a press conference on Monday. “We do not know when the supplies to the industry in the rest of the province would be snapped.”

“We strongly protest Punjab-specific blackouts for the industry,” he said.

The power distribution companies had abruptly cut power supply to the textile industry for eight hours on Sunday, resulting in production losses, he deplored.

“They are now threatening to stop supplies for an indefinite period. In fact they have severed power connection of Faisalabad-based textile mills today (Tuesday) on the plea that they have gas-run captive units,” he said.

Ahsan said gas supplies were restricted to three days a week with a possibility of further reduction to two days a week. “What should we do now?” he asked. “Close the industries and send our workers home?”

He said the interim set-up being apolitical was well placed to take tough measures like arresting power thieves and ordering recoveries worth hundreds of billions from the defaulters. Instead, he said, it had chosen to shut the export industry down at the cost of jobs and production. He said electricity production had dropped to below 8000MW from 14000MW in April last year.

Aptma senior vice-chairman Wassal Monnoo noted that Punjab was being discriminated against in power supplies. He said there was no load-shedding for the industries-based in Karachi and Sindh. The industrial sectors in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan also get smooth power supply while Punjab, where 70 per cent of the textile industry was located, was being denied power, he added.

‘Forced closure’

All Pakistan Textile Mills Regional Committee for Energy Convener Umer Nazar Shah said the decision was tantamount to “forced closure” of the industry that would render thousands of workers jobless, our Faisalabad staff correspondent adds.

He said now the frustrated entrepreneurs would launch a protest movement against ‘forced closure’ of their units and workers would also join them.

However, he did not announce the schedule of agitation and only said it would disrupt general elections’ process.

He said industry had availed only 110 to 120 days gas supplies last year and the power supply situation also deteriorated during the period.

Syed Zia, Pakistan Hosiery Manufacturers Association chairman, told Dawn the government should have taken measures to ensure smooth power supply to the sector instead of subjecting it to such cuts.

He said the decision would ultimately force the millers to layoff workers who would create law and order situation by taking to streets.

Pakistan Textile Exporters Association Chairman Asghar Ali said severe energy shortage had already devastated the manufacturing and industrial sectors, rendering many export units dysfunctional.

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