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Sunday October 24, 2021

Power cuts in sweltering heat add to masses woes

June 11, 2021

Ag Agencies

ISLAMABAD: Pakistanis continued to be beset with hours-long power cuts in the sweltering heat on Thursday, an issue which Minister of Energy Hammad Azhar said was due to a “15-20 per cent” increase in peak demand compared to the previous year.

The shortfall reportedly occurred because of a mudslide at the Tarbela Dam, which stopped power generation, Geo News reported. The power ministry said as of 8.30am on Thursday, the previous day’s total system demand was 22,393 megawatts, while the total output was 21,800 MW. The shortfall was of 593MW.

The ministry added that tunnel-3 of Tarbela had also been activated, which was gradually increasing electricity generation. According to the Tarbela Dam officials, the water level of the dam remained at 447 feet above the dead level, which is 1,439.21 feet, while only 10 power generation units out of 17 were producing only 1,348 megawatts of electricity and they were also not working at full capacity either.

Hammad Azhar, meanwhile, said: “We are witnessing approximately 15-20 per cent more peak demand in power compared to last year. We added 1,200MW to the national grid today. Another 1,000MW to be added tomorrow. That should eliminate most problems. Extra 350-550 MW being supplied to KE too.”

Across the country, especially Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar, and Islamabad’s citizens experienced hours-long load-shedding. The Ministry of Energy insisted that distribution companies were only conducting “load management as required only in areas with high losses”.

The ongoing power cuts led to opposition criticism, with Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Shahbaz Sharif terming it a “failure” of the PTI’s management. “Now the worst load-shedding is taking place in the summer due to the failure of PTI’s planning and management,” he tweeted.

He said the situation was due to the “economic stagnation created by this government”, not the demand. “It is a sign of their incompetence that they are not able to meet even this low demand,” Shahbaz added.

The energy minister responded to Shahbaz’s tweet, saying power consumption had increased by 6 per cent compared to last year and the federation was also giving an additional 550MW to Karachi Electric. “But sir, why did you make such expensive deals? And you completely ignored the transmission,” he said.