ISLAMABAD: Violent public protests across the country against long power outages on Monday forced the government into taking redemptive measures as it announced increasing power generation by 3,000 MWs to 13,500 MWs by Wednesday (tomorrow) to reduce the unscheduled loadshedding.
Mobs of angry citizens and opportunist looters rampaged across the cities, attacking banks, destroying petrol pumps, looting shopping centres, burning cars, and even setting a train on fire and looting its passengers. It appeared as if the cities had been completely taken over by the frenzied mobs.
In a hurriedly-called press briefing, Federal Minister for Water and Power, Ahmed Mukhtar, said that the finance ministry had immediately released Rs9 billion to ensure full supply of fuel to Hubco and Muzaffargarh powerhouse to get maximum thermal generation.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani has also convened a ministerial meeting on energy today (Tuesday) to find solutions for the crippling power crisis. In addition, gas from the fertiliser sector, Mukhtar said, has been diverted to the power sector because of which 1,100 MW of additional electricity will be injected into the system.
The minister said the power distribution companies (Discos) would provide the government Rs1.3 billion per day from now onwards by improving the recovery of their dues and electricity bills, which will ensure the smooth supply of fuel to powerhouses and will increase the power generation by 2,500MWs.
The minister claimed the power outages would be substantially decreased in the next three months. To a question, he said that Pakistan has a dependable capacity to generate 15,800 MWs electricity as the installed capacity of over 20,000 MWs has deteriorated over the years. When asked why the government is unable to generate even 15,800 MWs, the minister said the government lacks the financial resources to buy the required amount of furnace oil to get 2,500 MWs from Gencos and 7,000 MWs from IPPs.
He said circular debt in the energy sector has risen to a whopping Rs398 billion, and the receivable of CPPA (Central Power Purchase Agency) has also swelled to Rs378 billion. To a question, he said that the Punjab owes CPPA Rs15.6 billion, Sindh Rs51 billion and KESC Rs62 billion. He said that in the cabinet committee meeting on energy, it was decided to hire a consultant who will look into the accounts of all Discos and will reconcile the claims of dues of the CPPA with the four provincial governments, government agencies and attached departments, including AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan.
He said two federal ministers — Mian Mozoor Ahamd Wattoo and Dr Hafeez Shaikh — would together go to Sindh to meet the Sindh chief minister to resolve the issue of Rs51 billion dues. About the mounting payables of Rs62 billion by the KESC and supply of electricity to it, the minister said it was a political issue owing to which the federal government is unable to cut down the supply of 650 MW to the KESC despite the fact that it owes CPPA Rs62 billion. However, the minister remained quiet over the issue of ‘running defaulters’ who are liable to pay Rs166 billion.
The minister said it was a great challenge for him to take on the running defaulters, which include influential business tycoons. He vowed to get the dues recovered from these running defaulters who are being provided electricity despite the fact they owe billions of rupees whereas a common domestic power consumer faces disconnection of electricity supply if he fails to pay one month’s electricity bill.
The minister said the government would ensure ‘no load shedding’ in the holy month of Ramazan, particularly during Sehri, Iftar and Taravih time. He said by that, the country will be able to get hydro-generation of 6,250 MW and would also ensure the maximum running of thermal power plants to generate the optimum level of thermal electricity.
At present, the government has diverted 110mmcfd gas to the power sector from Engro and Daud fertilizer companies to four IPPs that include Orient, Saif Power, Sapphire, and Halmore Power Plants. The Kapco power plant is also being provided 55mmcfd gas. In the days to come, the gas supply to the power sector will be increased up to 225mmcfd.
To a question, the minister said that the Punjab government is involved in the violent riots in the province. At the same time, he admitted that the Punjab is facing more power outages because of the faulty policy of the federal government and said he would rectify the situation and there would be no more injustice to the Punjab in terms of loadshedding.
The ISECO chief on the occasion said that Aiwan-e-Sadr, PM House and Secretariat and the Supreme Court have no outstanding electricity bills.