“I had an exam today but I could not perform well due to continuous load shedding of electricity almost the whole night. Again, during the exams, it was also suspended for two hours, says Haris a young student of grade 10.
“The only source of my earning is a photocopier machine and I am the only support of my family. In the current situation, I as well as my family, is suffering a lot. Due to electricity failure, I could not earn enough to support my family and sometimes we have to sleep hungry,” says Muhammad Ali, a photocopy machine operator.
These are the few voices representing millions of the people of Pakistan who are suffering due to power shortage. The prolonged energy outages have created anger and desperation among people from all walks of life. Power shortfall has paralysed commercial life. People have no option but to react.
A protracted power shortage in the country has crippled the economy, as it has almost brought the industrial wheel to a standstill. Resultantly export targets have not been met. Thousands of industrial workers are jobless now. The unpredictable outages of electricity have not only affected industries but also businesses.
The energy crisis occurred due to lack of proactive approach, poor power policies in previous regimes and ignorance of sustainable options in the corridors of power. Poor governance and regulation on the part of regulatory authorities is another factor exacerbating the situation. Furthermore, there is no particular framework for standardizing the performance of power plants in terms of efficiently, consuming the fuel while generating electricity.
The current generation mix of the country is composed of 62 percent from thermal power plants, 32.3pc from hydro and 5.5pc from nuclear and other resources. The electricity shortfall has increased up to 4000 MW during the last week.
Let’s have a look on the outages in different areas of Pakistan, talking especially about Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA. The province and tribal areas are powered by Peshawar Electric Supply Company (PESCO) and Tribal Electric Supply Company (TESCO). The region’s power distribution companies receive only 16 percent of Pakistan’s total production.
There are longer power outages in rural areas as they face outages of 12 to 14 hours and urban areas face 6 to 7 hours of outages. At this situation, the PESCO Chief Executive Muhammad Wali said last month, “Ending load shedding is impossible without taking measure to save energy. The government will launch a campaign to raise awareness among people on how to save energy.” This shows the government’s seriousness about solving the issue.
Finding the solution of the prevailing energy crisis, a National Energy Conference was held under the supervision of Prime Minister of Pakistan in Lahore on 9th of April 2012. In the conference, it was concluded that the power shortage would be equally distributed throughout the country to redress Punjab’s complaints that it was being subjected to step-motherly treatment with longer periods of power outages than in other provinces.
Instead of advancing the clocks by one hour, office timings would be adjusted to minimize use of electricity in summer season. As a short-term measure all government offices would work five days a week and Punjab which had earlier refused to accept the decision now agreed to it. The step would help conserve 700MW of power.
People have rejected this new burden to take. President Punjab Forum, Mr. Baig Raj is of the view that, “The National Energy Conference is an attempt to deceive the masses dejected over prolonged energy outages. The outcome of this useless conference will not be different from previous conferences that concluded with big talk but contributed nothing towards reducing the shortfall.” He further adds, “There is no hope that the federal or provincial government would do something practical for resolution of crisis except tall claims and controversial short-term measures”.
Every Pakistani has lots of questions and wants the answers from the policy makers. For how long Pakistan’s economy will suffer due to these crises?
Does anyone have the answer?
This article was originally published at: The News
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or stance of SDPI.