ISLAMABAD: Faced with public ire over his government’s inability to curb unannounced power outages even in Ramazan, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif once again came down hard on the authorities on Monday and directed them to ensure minimum load-shedding in the fasting month.
Prime Minister Sharif was chairing a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Energy (CCE) in which officials from the Ministry of Water and Power briefed him on causes of load-shedding and steps taken to deal with it.
The Prime Minister will again chair the CCE meeting today (Tuesday), according to a statement from the PM House.
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“The prime minister expressed displeasure over the schedule of the load-shedding and directed that minimum load-shedding be carried out during the month of Ramazan,” said the statement issued after the CEC meeting.
It said the prime minister stressed that proactive and solution-oriented approach should be adopted by all line departments with the aim of providing maximum relief in the summer season.
Official sources privy to the meeting told The Express Tribune that the PM was not happy over the continuation of power outages despite assurances by the water and power authorities in a CCE meeting last month that power outages would reduce in the days ahead.
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“If I am not wrong… I was told last month in the same meeting that unexpected rise in temperature resulted in instant increase in the demand for power while the required amount of water was not available in the dams that hindered power generation.
“I was told that the situation would improve in the coming days. This looks to be far from happening and there isn’t much we have done. Why?” the PM was quoted as asking the officials, including Water and Power Minister Khawaja Asif and Secretary Water and Power Younas Dhaga.
“This happens every year. The temperature goes up and so do the power outages. This shouldn’t continue. We have to materialise our promises to end load-shedding. It’s high time,” the premier reportedly said in an implied reference to the general election scheduled next year.
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A source said the PM is concerned that if the elongated power outages continued throughout summers, it would adversely affect the PML-N government politically and dent its electoral prospects, which is the reason he regularly chairs CCE meeting himself and reviews progress on reducing load-shedding.
Interestingly, the statement went on to imply that additional power capacity would be available in the system by March next year but only if the related deadlines were met.
“It was informed that by March 2018, an additional 9,107 megawatts power carrying capacity would be available in the transmission system provided timelines are met.”
No load-shedding after 2018, says Nawaz
According to the statement, the PM said the government is “fully cognizant of the problems faced by masses due to power shortage and will not rest till a significant relief is provided.”
The secretary water and power briefed the meeting on implementation status of previous decisions taken by the CCE, current load management plan, circular debt, transmission and distribution of power from upcoming power projects and status of utilisation of idle power plants, it said.
The CCE was informed that Bhikki and Haveli Bhadur Shah plants were facing “normal mechanical problems” in some of their turbines which were being resolved with the manufacturer.
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Petroleum Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi briefed the CCE on new gas transmission pipelines being laid for LNG from Karachi to Lahore.
PM reviews development projects
The PM also chaired a meeting to review progress on development projects, particularly those of roads and motorways, across the country and Metro Link to New Islamabad International Airport.
The PM directed that timelines for project completion should be adhered to and “no compromise be made on quality of work”. He also directed that all works be undertaken with utmost transparency.
Frontier Works Organisation Director General Lt Gen Muhammad Afzal and National Highway Authority Chairman Shahid Ashraf Tarar also briefed the PM regarding progress on various roads and motorway projects being undertaken across the country.
Courtesy: Express Tribune