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Govt admits power shortfall figures tampered

* Minister says as much as 1,000MW to 1,200MW of power goes ‘missing’ each day prior to formal distribution

ISLAMABAD: Admitting mega foul play in the power sector, a serving minister has for the first time acknowledged that the officials concerned were involved in fudging of power shortfall figures, causing an unprecedented loss of Rs 770 billion to national kitty in the last seven years.
Minister of State for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali has alleged that the country has been facing Rs 110 billion annual loss for the last seven years due to the “criminal negligence” of the officials concerned of the National Power Control Centre (NPCC) and the National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC). He made this shocking disclosure in front of media persons during a press conference on Friday at the Water and Power Ministry.
The outspoken state minister for power also admitted that the relevant officials had also shared “fudged figures” with him, and said that as much as 1,000MW to 1,200MW of power goes “missing” each day prior to formal distribution. This “missing power” has been causing a loss of Rs 260 million daily and Rs 110billion loss annually to the exchequer. “A system of 500 meters worth $62million was brought some seven years back for the country with the aim to monitor the generation and distribution of power, but unfortunately it could not be installed,” Sher deplored.
It must be noted that on May 7 the Daily Times published an exclusive news report, titled “Govt ‘fudging figures’ to hide real power shortfall”, which stated that the actual power shortfall stands at 7,000MW, and not 3,100MW, as being claimed officially. Expressing serious concern over the thousands of missing power units, the minister admitted that 1,006MW of power was “found missing” even today (Friday) as he checked the system. He said that the officials of the NPCC and NTDC could not present solid arguments to justify the difference of 1,006MW, as demand was registered at 17,438MW, while the distribution was recorded at 10,183MW. 
“Where is this electricity distributed?” Sher questioned. He remarked that officials of the NTDC and NPCC had been deceiving the nation and even the former coalition government of the PPP. “No one who has played a role in destroying the departments will be spared,” Abid Sher Ali warned. He said that now the top man (chief executive officer) of a public sector power distributing company (DISCO) would be held accountable first over power theft.
The minister also said that a committee has been formed under the chairmanship of the federal water and power secretary to ascertain the facts regarding the thousands of missing power units. “This committee will submit its findings about 1,200MW of missing power and also (find out) why 500 meters have not been installed so far despite the passage of seven long years,” he said. Ironically, JS Power’s Zargham Ishaq, who was solely responsible for looking after the affairs of power generation, transmission and its distribution and who remained the managing director of PEPCO for many years, has been made part of a committee that was recently formed to probe the missing power units that have been costing heavily to the national kitty.
Official sources, who declined to be named, said head of NPCC and a general manager, Muhammad Saleem, are likely to be removed from their posts in the near future. It is worth mentioning that the NTDC officials have now assured the state minister that the 500 meters would be installed within a month.

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