Power outages amid scorching heat worsen life in Ramazan

* 12 to 18 hours of electricity load shedding being observed as power shortfall reaches above 6000mw

ISLAMABAD: The heat wave engulfing most parts of the country has significantly increased the power shortfall, pushing it above 6,000MW on Sunday and forcing authorities to resort to 12 to 18 hours of power load shedding. 
Sources in power sector told Daily Times that amid scorching heat the power shortfall has surged above 6,000MW. The total power generation on Sunday was registered at around 13,000MW, while the demand went beyond 20,000MW. The sector-wise breakdown of power generation is as follows: thermal 1,580 MW, hydropower 4,680MW, IPPs (independent power producers) 6,940 MW, and wind 95 MW. The power demand stood at 19,500MW, leaving a supply shortfall of over 6,000MW.
Ironically, despite tall claims by the government that it would minimise power load shedding in Ramazan, especially during Sehr, Iftar and Taraveeh, but this has not happened, as there has been no let-up in outages even during these timings. Apparently to avoid public criticism, the government has said that the entire power system is very old, especially the transmission lines, which are unable to transmit more than 15,000MW of electricity. 
An official at the Power Ministry, who wished not to be named, said the incumbent government is currently busy attracting foreign investment for power generation projects, knowing well that it would take long time to provide relief to the already burdened masses. He added that there is a lack of attention towards planning, policy formulation and making the entire power system efficient. “Due to the acute unscheduled power load shedding across the country, water shortage is also worsening, forcing the common man to take to the streets,” he said.
Background interviews and discussions with energy experts show a bleak picture of the power situation. They said the situation is alarming, as the power shortfall has crossed a new high of 7,000MW, devastating life in the holy month of Ramazan. Announced and unannounced hours-long power outages ranging between 12-18 hours have plunged the whole country into darkness, severely disturbing life and business activities in both rural and urban areas. The experts are of the view that the spiralling power outages are ostensibly due to mismanagement and absence of a concrete policy. 
“There seems no respite at hand, as the interim government, besides giving media statements, has so far not issued any concrete policy to deal with the power crisis, which has ballooned out of control,” an expert deplored, adding, “Officials at the Water and Power Ministry are paying no heed even to the instructions of NAB chief who had raised fingers at continuous supply of gas to the inefficient captive power plants of influential industrialists on subsidised rates. Even the irritated citizens have taken to the streets against the scheduled and unscheduled power outages and demanded the government chalk out a proper plan to control the load shedding.” 
It is pertinent to note here that the Indus River System Authority (IRSA) has so far denied the government’s request to release additional water for power generation to bridge the demand and supply gap. It is worth mentioning that the National Weather Forecasting Centre of Pakistan Metrological Department has said that during the next 24 hours weather will be mainly very hot and humid in most parts of the country. However, isolated rain-thundershower with dust-raising gusty winds is expected in Malakand, Hazara, Kalat divisions and Kashmir.

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