ISLAMABAD: Electricity supply was cut to several major official buildings on Tuesday for non-payment of bills, including parliament, Presidency, Prime Minister’s Secretariat and the Supreme Court.
The Islamabad Electric Supply Company (IESCO) disconnected the electricity due to non-payment of bills amounting to millions of rupees. However, the electricity supply of the Supreme Court, Pak Secretariat and Parliament House was restored in the evening. The Supreme Court’s electricity was restored on the intervention of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The Supreme Court registrar office later stated that it was not a defaulter of the electricity company, and as stated by the PWD department, dues till the month of April have been cleared.
Electricity was restored to the Pak Secretariat and Parliament House after payment of bills, officials said. Acting on the order of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to speed up recoveries from power defaulters, the Water and Power Ministry has come into action and IESCO disconnected the supply of electricity on Monday and Tuesday to net the “big fishes”. Earlier, State Minister for Water and Power Abid Sher, in a press conference held on Tuesday on the premises of IESCO, issued orders for immediate disconnection of electricity supply to government institutions, including the Presidency, Prime Minister’s Secretariat, Parliament Lodges, official residence of the chief justice of Pakistan, Sindh and Balochistan House, etc.
“An in-discriminatory action will be taken to recover electricity dues from the defaulters, as the premier has given one month’s time to recover dues, and the ministry will have to take immediate measures to meet the deadline,” Abid Sher Ali said. He added that the campaign against electricity defaulters and power thieves had been initiated on the directives of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and action would be taken against those usurping the rights of the people.
Responding to a question, the minister said the government will recover Rs 33 billion, while power-distributing companies (DISCOs) will recover Rs 475 billion. DISCOs have been directed to immediately recover the dues. Abid Sher stated categorically that electricity would be provided only to those consumers who are paying their bills regularly. “The state minister has ordered IESCO to disconnect electricity of the defaulters,” a senior official at IESCO said.
Abid Sher Ali announced an “indiscriminate drive” to recover unpaid bills and warned that all offices and customers who had defaulted would be cut off. “I have issued orders that the electricity supply to Parliament Lodges, Parliament House and President’s Secretariat should be disconnected immediately for non-payment of millions of rupees of bills,” he said. The Capital Development Authority, which is responsible for paying government offices’ bills, owes the Islamabad Electricity Supply Company 2.36 billion rupees.
The minister said that total outstanding liabilities against the Sindh government were Rs 56 billion. Similarly, the Punjab government has to pay Rs 3.4 billion, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan each owe Rs 2.5 billion, he added. The Presidency, which is the head of state’s office and residence, owes 28 million rupees, while lawmakers’ residential block, Parliament Lodges, had to pay 20 million rupees to IESCO, he added. Power company officials said that electricity supply to more than 100 government offices had been disconnected over non-payment of bills. Solving the country’s energy crisis was a key campaign pledge for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the runup to the 2013 general election.
But the daily power cuts, known euphemistically as “load-shedding”, have already begun this year, even though there is still at least a month to go before the height of summer, when temperatures in some places top 50 degrees Celsius. The disconnections were not limited to electricity. The state-run gas company also disconnected the natural gas supply to the prime minister’s offices.
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