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The News

Published Date: May 29, 2013

New government faces mega challenge of energy crisis

Pepco
former Managing Director Tahir Basharat Cheema has said that Pakistan is
‘Marzipura’, a land where everyone is free to do whatever he likes with
impunity. It is time now for tough government to take over which is
committed
to banish mismanagement. It is time to force government departments to
pay
their bills. It is time to extract money due from defaulters. The
federal
government owes Rs7 billion in power bills, provincial governments Rs80
billion, AJK Rs23 billion, and KESC Rs45 billion. Even if we are able to
make
them cough out even half of the amount, we can rein in the power crisis
to a
tangible extent.

Tahir
Basharat expressed these views while talking to Hamid Mir, the host of
Geo News
programme ‘Capital Talk’ on Monday. Others who participated in the
debate on: ‘The Real Cause of Load Shedding: Shortage of Power or
Mismanagement and
Theft’, were Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Vice Chancellor Dr
Maasoom
Yasinzai, SDPI Executive Director Dr Abid Sulehri, Mirpur Citizens
Action
Committee President Sadar Aijaz Nazir and Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce
and
Industry President Mian Zahid Aslam. At the outset of the programme a
report on
the difficulties being suffered by students of Quaid-i-Azam University,
prepared by Subookh Syed was aired. In addition to that in his report
Saifur
Rehman apprised the viewers of the lies told by government officials.

The
Pepco ex-MD further said that theft of electricity was a very big problem
confronting us. Moreover some people do not pay the bills. “What we urgently
need now is the implementation of law. We will have to end mismanagement and
check electricity theft at all costs. For coal mining we will need the
assistance of China which can help us to a great extent. But for the total
solution of the problem we will have to rely on self-sufficiency. Saudi Arabia,
China, and the US will certainly help us but first of all we will have to overcome
the problem of mismanagement,” Cheema said.

Dr
Maasoom Yasinzai said that the concept of universities has changed the world
over, but unfortunately in our country it is still considered as a
degree-awarding institution. Today society has pinned high hopes on
universities. Research tells that the electricity crisis can be overcome to
some extent with molasses and bagasse in sugar industry. We have started
mulling over power plant for each university of its own. He said that Allah has
gifted Pakistan with 185 billion tonnes of coal but we do not use even 2% for
overcoming the power crisis, whereas most of the countries generate electricity
with coal.

Dr
Abid Sulehri said that in order to give subsidy, Nawaz Sharif will have to
raise the tariff. Power crisis cannot be solved with a paltry Rs10 billion. A
huge sum of Rs742 billion is needed to end the circular debt. He said, "You
cannot be a successful businessman if you spend Rs16 to produce something and
sell it for only Rs7. To raise tariff is not the solution of the problem. We
will have to change our fuel for generating electricity."

He
further said that if there was no loadshedding in Karachi, it was only because
of subsidy. “As long as Karachi received subsidised electricity, all was hunky
dory. But now even residents of Karachi are facing the scourge of loadshedding.
Thar coal is not suitable for generating electricity for the reason that during
transportation when it comes into contact with oxygen, it catches fire.” He
agreed that Pakistan State Oil (PSO) had been supplying adulterated oil to
generation plants. The Ministry of Water and Power had got its analysis at Kot
Addu which revealed that there was 8% water n the furnace oil. The adulterated
oil impacted our machinery negatively. Our research tells us that with the use
of this adulterated oil we are suffering a loss of Rs42 billion a year. If the
Nawaz government succeeds in overcoming mismanagement in the first 100 days in
office, 35% of the power crisis would have been solved.

Mian
Zahid Aslam said that the need of building new dams has acquired an
unprecedented urgency. We are ignoring cheaper electricity and are opting for
costlier electricity. The new government will have to take immediate steps to
check power theft. It has never happened in history that traders,
industrialists, and exporters all have taken to streets.

Sardar
Ijaz Nazir said that of all parts in Azad Kashmir, the residents of Mirpur pay
hefty bills regularly. We have been told that Mirpur would be exempted from
loadshedding. However, such promises have been made in the past as well which
were never fulfilled.