Islamabad - Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Asif has said that the masses will have to bear 10 hours of loadshedding a day during the next two months.
Addressing a joint press conference with Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid and Minister of State for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali in Islamabad, Khawaja Asif said majority of the people who were protesting against blackouts were power thieves and defaulters.
He said electricity shortfall has increased to 3,200 megawatt this week due to use of air-conditioners and government will discontinue electricity supply to feeders incurring massive losses. The minister urged power consumers to clear their dues on time; otherwise, his ministry will take action indiscriminately. He said free of cost electricity could not be provided and “the merchandise will be sold to only those who pay for it”.
Khawaja Asif said circular debt has again surged to 197 billion rupees due to power theft and slow recoveries. He however said due to aggressive campaign against pilferage, over 3.2 billion rupees have been so far recovered from the defaulters of electricity bills. He reiterated government's resolve to settle all electricity disputes with provincial governments through dialogue. He said serious efforts had been put in place to ensure full recovery from government departments and private sector by June 30, which would improve power situation.
He added the masses had to brave tough time of over three months but the situation would gradually improve with additional power supply of 2,200MW from power projects including Gaddu, Uch and Nandipur projects. Moreover, he said, the power situation would further improve when imported gas would start flowing by end of 2015 and the domestic and industrial sector would have sufficient power supply. He also said that Sehr and Aftar times will be exempted from loadshedding during moth of Ramazan.
He said a control room was being set up in the ministry to provide real time information about 8,900 feeders in the country with regard to loadshedding, demand and supply gap etc. He said the government was making earnest efforts to add more power supply to system. Last year in May the generation stood at 8,200MW but it had gone up to 10,058MW. He said agriculture was a vital sector and efforts were being made to observe minimum loadshedding and added tube wells head was reflecting Rs72 billion as outstanding. He said finance ministry recently released Rs20 billion to the PSO for fuel supply to power plants as a part of efforts to ease loadshedding.
After a rigorous campaign against defaulters and illegal connections in KPK and Sindh, the ministry of water and power has finally realised that only provinces but different departments of federal government are also responsible for the loadshedding. "The government itself is a big defaulter," Khawaja Asif said. He was referring to the recent disconnections of power supply to top government buildings including President House, Prime Minister's Secretariat, Supreme Court, Parliament Lodges and official residence of Chief Justice of Pakistan, on non-payment of huge electricity bills.
According to the Constitution of Pakistan, the prime minister is the executive authority of the country who presides over the cabinet and is head of the government. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's promises to end loadshedding after coming into power are still fresh in the minds of the citizens and archives of media houses are full of them. "PML-N would resolve all issues including loadshedding, terrorism, extremism, poverty and unemployment, if given a chance to form government", Nawaz had said while addressing a large crowd at Aabpara on May 5, 2013 during his election campaign.
But after coming into power, it seems that ending loadshedding is no more a priority of the PML-N. When PM Nawaz was recently reminded of his promises to end loadshedding he came up with a new answer. "Yes, I promised to end loadshedding but never gave a date!” Khawaja Asif also said in his press conference, "People should be ready to face this hardship of loadshedding for another couple of months." Passing the buck of prevailing long loadshedding to illegal connections minister said that because of a few electricity thieves millions of people were suffering.
With the rise in mercury from last few days, ghost of loadshedding has already started haunting the length and breadth of the country. On Friday, total power generation was 11,300 megawatts, while demand was 14,100MW, resulting in a shortfall of 2,800 MW. The electricity shortfall on April 29 was 2,600 megawatts. According to reports from all over the country, eight to ten hours of loadshedding is already being observed in cities whereas indefinite blackouts are common in rural areas.