ISLAMABAD  - The Senate Committee on Water and Power called upon the government not to increase the prices of electricity further and to launch immediate efforts for enhancing the hydel potential on war footing. The committee's meeting was held here on Monday under the Chairmanship of Senator Hafiz Malik Qadri to discuss the energy crisis and load shedding in the country. The Committee observed that the power crisis is gradually assuming an alarming proportion as the supply and demand gap is increasing with each passing day. Resultantly, the people are being subjected to long hours of load shedding but surprisingly their monthly electricity bills are not undergoing any substantial decrease, it added. Similarly, the industrial and agricultural sectors are suffering tremendously. This state of affairs called for serious stocktaking and introspection, it maintained.  The committee called for formulating a long-term strategy in this regard. It also directed the Ministry of Water and Power to urgently explore the possibilities of commissioning more coal based power plants utilising the rich reserves found in Thar, Lakhra, etc. It said Thar alone has the potential to fulfill power needs of the country for decades. Some members of the Committee expressed their surprise over the fact that China and many other neighboring countries are meeting more than 50% of their power requirements through plants based on coal. However, despite having some of the richest reserves in the world, this gift of nature is being ignored. The Senate body also asked the Ministry of Water and Power to furnish a complete list of major defaulters and to initiate strict measures against power thieves and kunda users. It said that a comprehensive and consistent campaign be launched in this connection for public awareness and building moral pressure on wrong doers. Earlier, the Ministry of Water and Power in its briefing informed the Senate body that unprecedented increase in the prices of oil in the international market had dealt a severe blow as nearly 69% electricity being generated in the country is thermal, which is dependent on imported oil.  The government is providing per unit subsidy of about Rs. 3.36 to consumers but this situation can not go on forever. High percentage of line losses, thefts and frequent attacks on installations especially in Balochistan is further complicating the issue and compounding our problems, it informed. Mindful of its responsibilities and aware of the potential, it informed that the future thrust of the government would be on improving the hydel and coal potential of the country. "We aim at 15,000 MW generation from these sources by 2016, adding, work on Neelam-Jhelum project has already begun."  The Committee also constituted a sub-committee headed by Senator Dr. Javaid Laghari to look into the problem of frequent power outages in Karachi with senators Abdul Razak A. Thahim, Muhammad Amin Dadabhoy and Ms. Agha Pari Gul as members. The meeting was attended, among others, by Senators Muhammad Amjad Abbas Muhammad Amin Dadabhoy, Ms. Agha Pari Gul, Saleem Saifullah Khan, Abdul Razak A. Thahim, Maulana Rahat Hussain, Raza Muhammad Raza, Maulana Gul Naseeb, Dr. Javaid Laghari and Senator Sardar Muhammad Jamal Khan Leghari and senior officials of the Ministry of Water and Power and WAPDA.