ISLAMABAD - Just after one week of joining Ministry of Water and power, Nargis Sethi has acquired full control of the ministry affairs, and the energetic and vocal State Minister Abid Sher Ali seems to have been dumped.
According to sources, Sethi started daily meetings with Disco heads over video link and started surprise visits of Supply Companies, just after the joining. She also has been meeting with officials to speed up recoveries.
"She has been doing all the work for herself which Ali was doing previously, and now there is hardly anything left for the State Minister in the ministry", sources said. Abid Sher Ali plans to visit Abbottabad Today, but his outstation visits could also be reduced in near future, sources say.
Some officials believe that when the secretary issued orders that no Disco chief will leave his station it was merely a show of power and to inform all stakeholders that now power lies with her. Sethi passed these orders during her daily Video link meeting with Disco heads last week.
Apart from taking control of affairs of the ministry, she has changed her staff and sources say she has been in process of finalising her own team. It was learnt that drastic changes are expected soon in whole bureaucracy of the ministry.
Before the arrival of Sethi, the ministry was divided into groups. Some officers were loyal to Abid Sher Ali, while others were with Minister Khawaja Asif and yet some other officials had formed a sort of their own group.
One of the first two powerful groups alleges the other of taking bribes from Discos. "The DISCO chiefs daily send huge amounts of money to one senior official of the ministry, so that their irregularities are protected, the accusers say. Some insiders hold political appointments of Disco chiefs and political affiliations of the senior staff responsible for the irregularities in the power sector.
The recent decision of top boss to register an FIR against Lesco chief on allegations of obliging textile mills out of domestic consumers’ quota has also raised many questions. Some people question why the ministry realised this irregularity only after lapse of a year and why progress has not been made in cases involving power theft allegations on allied departments of the ministry.
State Minister Abid sher Ali last month held NTDC responsible for a daily theft of up to 1200MW electricity and constituted an enquiry to probe the matter, but later this matter was apparently dumped and no report of that enquiry has been made public so far.
Some believe that Ali was deprived of power by government over his failure to manage affairs of this technical and complicated ministry. However, some believe that State Minister has achieved some millstone in his ambitious campaign against defaulters and power thieves, and appointment of new secretary will overshadow his accomplishments.
"Ali has been running across the country to stop loadshedding and improve recoveries and now when it is time that his efforts are near to bear fruit, he has been dumped", some people say. Sethi’s critics question abilities of this officer, tagged with PPP government in last tenure.
Sethi was given additional charge of water and power ministry but was removed after couple of months of service, in 2013. Her opponents question her appointment in the most happening ministry of the country when she has to retire this year.
But Sethi’s admirers say she has exact set of abilities required to do the job and it was her boldness and strong management skills that she earned titles of "Iron Lady" and “Condoleezza Rice of Pakistan” during PPP regime.
Reducing loadshedding is the challenge for the present government, and that's the reason Rs250 billion has been allocated for water and power sector in 2014-15 budget and huge foreign investment is also expected in this sector in near future.
Analysts believe that regulating loadshedding in coming month of Ramazan would be a real test for the skills of Sethi. They believe that she has nothing to lose but success could bring her remunerations and extension in service.