Govt ‘apologises’ over prolonged power cuts

* Power minister seeks ‘divine help’ to overcome spiralling power crisis * Waiting for rain to ease weather conditions, lower electricity demand

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Asif on Monday apologised to the nation over prolonged power load shedding and said that all-out efforts are being made to improve power generation and supply system to overcome this problem.
Addressing a press conference along with State Minister for Power Abid Sher Ali and Secretary Nargis Sethi, the minister said that there is a shortfall of 7,000MW of electricity, while the demand has increased to 19,000MW, which has resulted in massive load shedding. He said that the crisis further intensified in the past three days, as two grid stations of 1,500MW in Lahore tripped. One of the grid stations has been restored, while the second will be restored in a couple of days. The minister said, “We apologise to the nation over the massive load shedding in the past three days.”
Asif said efforts are being made to overcome power theft and reduce line losses besides setting up new power generation houses to improve the situation. He appealed to the masses to pray for rain so that the load shedding could be reduced. He said the system cannot bear load of more than 15,000MW of electricity. “If the load exceeds 15,000MW grip stations start tripping.” He said it would take three to four years to rectify the entire system. He said that the circular debt is hovering around Rs 280 to Rs 285 billion.
The power minister cautioned that the power shortfall would witness a further rise if the ongoing spell of heat did not subside. He appealed to the people to be economical with the electricity so that all areas could be provided with it. The minister said the Sindh government has to pay Rs 57 billion in default charges. He said a court had been approached to contain widespread electricity thefts. The minister said load shedding of 18 to 20 hours was being conducted because of the power thieves.
Despite various difficulties, he said, electricity supply was being ensured to industries across the country. He said the government cannot give a time frame for ending load shedding, “as we do not want to make any false promises which would cause us to be embarrassed in front of the nation”. He announced that there would be no load shedding in the three days of Eid.
“Allah will rescue (help) us during the next two to three days and the situation will be improved,” Asif said while praying for rain. He, however, added that the masses will have to bear with the power outages if hot and dry weather persisted. He said the PML-N government is leaving no stone unturned to add up to 7,000MW of owner during the next three to four years in a sincere bid to control the load shedding by improving supply.
“We have to control power theft and an end line losses to overcome the load shedding. The government is striving hard to minimise power theft, decrease line losses besides setting up power generation houses with an objective to improve the entire power situation,” the power minister said. Admitting unannounced outrageous power load shedding from July 12, federal minister said it was only because 1,500MW of power went out of the system while power generation was at 13,000MW and demand reached 19,000MW. “In this way, power shortfall was recorded at above 6,000MW and power consumers located in Punjab were badly affected with the outages.” “If we had taken more electricity from the DISCOs during these days there was a fear that the entire power system would collapse, so unannounced power load shedding was carried out, and people suffered as a result.”

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