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‘Only eight hours of load shedding being carried out’

* Power minister says no unannounced power cuts anywhere in country

ISLAMABAD: In plain contradiction to ground realities, Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Muhammad Asif has said that up to eight hours of power load shedding is being carried out in the urban areas, while the practice of unannounced power cuts has been shunned across the country.
The minister made these tall claims while talking to the media after the signing ceremony of a 50-megawatt wind energy project on Wednesday. 
Khawaja Asif further said that power thieves were staging protest demonstrations in different parts of the country, while a tug-of-war between the thieves and the federal government continued. 
“At present, the country faces a power shortfall of 2,500MW,” he added. “The tug-of-war is between the centre and power thieves, and power plants are lying idle for the fear of increase in circular debt.” 
He also said that ‘thugs’ were making a hue and cry only to get ‘permission’ of power theft.
Earlier on Tuesday, Asif had said on the sidelines of the first meeting of Energy Planning Working Group of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that the provincial governments and big organisations were involved in power theft. 
He had admitted the government’s failure to control the rising power theft and line losses, saying strict measures were under consideration to curb the menace of power theft. 
He also said that the government was mulling over suspending power supply to the areas where power theft continues.
Triggering a fresh controversy, the federal minister had also alleged that some big guns were behind unabated power theft in the country, while also admitting the government’s failure in convincing the provinces to pay outstanding power dues through the federal adjuster.
On Wednesday, a signing ceremony on 50MW wind power project was held between the Ministry of Water and Power and Yunus Energy. Top officials from the two sides were present on the occasion.
Talking about the wind power project, Khawaja Asif said that required funds for 1,000MW wind power were available. He also said that this wind power project would be completed within 15 months at a cost of $135 million in Jhimpir, Thatta district.

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