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Saving energy: Markets to shut down by 8:30pm, wedding halls 10pm

Punjab govt refuses to follow centre's order; KP yet to decide

By Web Desk
January 03, 2023

Federal ministers Sherry Rehman (from left to right), Khawaja Asif and Khurram Dastgir Khan address a press conference after a federal cabinet meeting on January 3, 2022. — Screengrab
Federal ministers Sherry Rehman (from left to right), Khawaja Asif and Khurram Dastgir Khan address a press conference after a federal cabinet meeting on January 3, 2022. — Screengrab

Markets across the country will close at 8:30pm and wedding halls at 10pm under the government's final energy conservation plan, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif announced Tuesday in an unveiling of the government's final energy conservation plan.

He addressed a press conference flanked by Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman, Minister for Power Khurram Dastgir Khan and others after a meeting on Tuesday of the federal cabinet.

The federal cabinet approved the enforcement of the energy conservation plan with immediate effect. Its meeting chaired by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif was held in Islamabad on Tuesday.

What's the energy conservation plan?

In the media briefing, Asif shared that 30% reduction in electricity consumption of government institutions has been instructed by PM Shehbaz, saying that this project will save Rs62 billion annually.

The minister said, in pursuance of his order, the federal cabinet meeting - in a symbolic action - was held without electricity.

"We need to change our lifestyle," Asif said, talking about how Pakistan's routine differs from the rest of the world. He said that unlike other countries, Pakistan keeps its markets and restaurants open till 1-2am.

Sharing more points from the plan, Asif said that electric fans will not be produced after July 1. "We use 29,000 megawatts of electricity in the summer — 17,000MW more [usage] than [in] the winter — and 12,000MW in winter," he said, adding that electricity consumption should be reduced.

He said additional duty will be levied on inefficient electric fans which will help save Rs15 billion.

From February 1, filament bulbs that consume more electricity will not be produced, he shared, explaining that it will save Rs22 billion. Meanwhile, all government institutions will install efficient devices to save electricity and that ineffective devices have been banned.

A campaign will be launched on print, electronic and social media to create awareness amongst the people about the energy conservation plan, Asif shared.

He said water rates will be reviewed in order to ensure the conservation of water. He said building control authorities will bring necessary reforms in by laws of housing societies to ensure efficient use of water.

The federal cabinet also approved reduction of maximum retail price of twenty medicines to provide relief to the common man.

The minister also announced that e-bikes will be introduced countrywide.

"We are slowly shifting to electric bikes. People will be facilitated by financing via dealers to shift to these facilities," said the minister. He added that Pakistan is using oil worth $3 billion annually.

The minister also announced that the cabinet has directed the formation of a committee to submit a report on implementing work from home in offices.

The minister said that President Arif Alvi has supported the federal government's plan. He said that the government has spoken to all the provinces and stakeholders and has taken everyone's stance on it as this will be a permanent feature which will be beneficial for the country.

Asif said that this plan will benefit everyone in the long term. He said that the cabinet will monitor it and review the plan that will be imposed immediately.

KP, Punjab respond

In response, Special Assistant to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister (SACM) Barrister Muhammad Ali Saif said the policy was of the federal government, and the province was not consulted prior to the announcement.

"There was also no consultation over the closure of markets and shops," the barrister said in a statement.

He further stated that the KP government is already taking steps to preserve electricity — using LED bulbs and working on solarisation.

The government is taking steps to prevent environmental pollution, he claimed, adding the decision has not yet been made regarding the implementing the centre's power-preservation policy.

In his statement, Punjab Senior Minister Mian Aslam Iqbal said that the provincial government rejects the decision and would not accept any orders of the "imported government".