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Four-member panel to probe power breakdown

Top Story

January 11, 2021

ISLAMABAD/LAHORE/KARACHI: The National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC) has constituted a four-member inquiry committee to look into facts/causes of collapse of power system late Saturday night, which plunged most of the country into dark.

According to the NTDC notification, the committee includes GM North Malik Javeed Mehmood, GM technical NTDC Ghulam Abbas Memon, CE NTDC Atif Mujeeb Usmani and Chief Engineer (Network) NPCC Sajjad Akhtar.

Malik Javed Mehmood would be convener of the committee, while the other three would be its members.

The committee would probe into reasons/facts leading to collapse of the power system.

It would also hold any officer/official responsible for negligence in discharge of duty.

The committee was also mandated to suggest measures to prevent re-occurrence of such incidents in future.

The committee was required to give its report with comprehensive findings/recommendation and way forward within seven days, the notification said.

With the power supply still playing hide and seek, the government and opposition Sunday indulged in a slanging-match blaming each other for the countrywide power breakdown on Saturday.

Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz Sunday squarely blamed the past government for the power breakdown, as no attention was paid to the power transmission system.

In a tweet and then during a joint news conference with Minister for Energy Omar Ayub, the minister said in the past no attention was paid to the power transmission system but now it was being improved.

He said Omar Ayub and his team were credited with restoring power in different parts of the country.

The minister said Omar himself monitored the situation throughout the night, trying his best to overcome the problem.

Shibli said there was a breakdown at 11:41 last night after which power supply was suspended across the country.

He said work was done in a certain direction on the power sector and more attention was paid to power generation in the previous government.

The minister continued that there were three sectors of electricity – generation, distribution and transmission. Power generation plants, he said, had been built but the transmission system was not compatible. “If the power transmission system was not updated, there might be problems.”

PM’s Special Assistant on Political Communication Dr Shahbaz Gill Sunday said the PML-N government had inked expensive power contracts just to make money and didn’t even bother to attend the funerals of martyrs.

Meanwhile, Special Assistant to the Punjab chief Minister Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan Sunday said Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar liaised with the federal government for complete restoration of electric supply in every city of the province.

In a statement, she said the chief minister personally monitored the situation till the morning and issued necessary instructions to the commissioners and RPOs.

She said the chief minister always stood by the public in their trying times and considered people’s suffering as his own.

She said Usman Buzdar was still in touch with the federal government.

Firdous said the supply situation had been improved and people will be kept informed in this regard.

She said the flawed PDM even tried to politicise the power suspension issue.

“The princess's bondmaids only get paid for their lying. Keeping the people well informed about the real situation is the government’s responsibility. The government is unlucky that its opposition lacks vision and uses cheap tactics,” she added.

Meanwhile, PML-N Secretary Information Marriyum Aurangzeb Sunday termed the federal ministers’ press conference on power breakdown a ‘bulletin of lies’ and said not just electricity but every sector had broken down ever since the incompetent and disastrous PTI government was imposed on Pakistan.

In a statement, she said the PTI government had become habituated to blaming the PML-N and the opposition for everything.

She said though the government still had no idea of what caused the breakdown, it was shamelessly blaming the former PML-N government for the crisis.

She said up to 25,000 megawatt power was being supplied by the PML-N government in summer, but when the PTI’s incompetence caused a breakdown of power system, all of a sudden the PTI government started blaming it on Nawaz Sharif's mistake.

“The system was working great when it was handling maximum load in summers and during the winter when the load was less than half, it crashed due to Nawaz Sharif,” she mocked.

She said those who couldn’t install a single megawatt for the past 8 years in KP and during three years in the federal government had the audacity to shamelessly blame Nawaz Sharif for the breakdown.

She said Nawaz Sharif saved the nation from 18-hour loadshedding and installed new power plants. If the transmission system was bad, then how did Imran Sahib's 18-hour loadshedding come to zero? When the ruler is a thief and incompetent, then darkness becomes the destiny of the nation,” she said.

She said it won’t surprise the nation if Imran’s next statement came out to be that Nawaz Sharif-installed power plants are blackmailing him.

She said ever since Imran Sahib came, everything had been breaking down from the national currency to the economy, employment, business, flour, sugar, food, Railways, PIA, FBR, ministries, institutions and the foreign policy.

PML-N Secretary-General Ahsan Iqbal said Prime Minister Imran Khan "attempted to reboot the country".

"The country's economy is in the doldrums. We have mounting deficits. Imran Khan thought: 'Why don't we reboot the country like a mobile phone? Maybe it'll work'," Iqbal said, mockingly.

"He tried to shut down the entire power system and restart it.

"Imran sahab, this is a country, not a mobile phone which will begin working after rebooting it. For God's sake do not play with the country like this. Hand in your resignation and go home," the PML-N leader said.

He said the unprecedented shutdown "proves that this government is incompetent and unqualified".

Meanwhile, power could not be restored to many areas of Karachi including Nazimabad, North Nazimabad, North Karachi, Surjani Town and some parts of District East and District South till Sunday evening.

Meanwhile, in a statement, K-Electric (KE) said the countrywide power breakdown cascaded to the KE network affecting Karachi’s power supply as well.

The power utility claimed that since 12 midnight, its teams had been working to restore power to the city. By late evening, according to a spokesperson for the KE, electricity supply from the national grid was resumed through existing interconnection points with the KE.

The power utility said its teams were available to address any individual customer complaints received at its 118 call centre.

Meanwhile, Sindh Energy Minister Imtiaz Sheikh said the major power breakdown throughout the country was nothing but incompetence of the federal power ministry.

Even after 12 hours, he pointed out in a statement, the federal ministry could not locate the exact fault.

He demanded that the chairman of the National Transmission and Despatch Company (NTDC) be immediately suspended and an inquiry committee be constituted to probe the matter.

Sheikh said it was a matter of great concern for the nation’s institution that the entire country plunged into darkness just because of a single power plant.

He lamented how due to lack of representations of provinces in the NTDC, there were no checks and balances.

The federal government, he said, had paid no heed to the need for improving the distribution mechanism of power in its two-and-a-half year tenure.

The only work the federal government had been doing was blaming the previous governments, the Sindh energy minister said.

Meantime, the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) said that its major water pumping stations suffered a blow after the power breakdown due to which water supply to the city was suspended.

Only small distribution pumping stations, according to a spokesperson for the water board, could be run on generators.

On Sunday evening, the water board said with the restoration of power, the water supply was resumed to different parts of the city.