Experts want concrete steps to check power theft, corruption

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ISLAMABAD: Many experts are questioning the increase in power tariff by the PML-N government without first taking concrete steps or announcing a policy for eradication of corruption in the power sector, ensuring efficiency of power plants, cut line losses, theft and stop misuse of power distribution companies by vested interests.


Keeping all corrupt practices in power sector aside, one glaring example which is considered as one of the basic reasons of loadshedding and skyrocketing electricity tariff and which still goes unchecked, is the illegal grant of distribution license to a private company considered very close to rulers by National Electric Power Regulatory Authority’s (Nepra).


The company according to official documents consumes huge amounts of electricity on very cheaper costs. The Nepra had granted license to the company on November 24, 2010 by bending its rules and regulation.


Islamabad Electric Supply Company’s (Iesco) mega fraud of providing electricity to this company is also still unchecked. When the Iesco had moved Islamabad High Court against injustice of the Nepra to grant distribution license to this private company illegally and the PPP government had pressured the Iesco to withdraw this petition, the Iesco lawyer and senior legal expert Anwar Kamal informed the Iesco that such practices are the basic reason behind increase in power tariffs and unchecked loadshedding and the Iesco must not withdraw its petition.


The Iesco was made to provide electricity in bulk to this private company at very cheap rates in C-3 category of tariff. Anwar Kamal has written that if the Iesco withdraws its petition, it will be a national crime and the entire board of directors of the Iesco will be responsible for this.


However, even the new government, for obvious reasons, has not taken any step to revoke this license issued by the Nepra or to stop the Iesco from providing electricity to this private company but has announced to increase the power tariff to shift this burden on the poor people.


According to experts in power sector, besides coming up with a clear cut policy to reduce line losses, eliminating corruption in power sector, stopping interference in affairs of DISCOs and misusing them for bribes, the federal Ministry of Water and Power needs to check the standards of power plants which have lowest efficiency rate.


Senior power sector expert, Arshad H Abbasi told The News surge in electricity prices came when most of IPPs started operating on furnace oil instead of cheaper gas. Arshad said that despite providing power generation companies with oil and gas, no government ever dared to set generation standards for the plants or conduct their technical audit.


He said even army governments were unable to do that because of influence of the power sector mafias. Arshad said that generally efficiency of a power plant in the world is around 50 to 60 percent but in our case it is simply 20 to 30 percent. Power plants around the world can produce 100 units of electricity by consuming 14 to 15 Kg of crude oil while our plants consume up to 40 Kg for the same production.


Arshad said that 5,000 to 6,000 btu heat is required to produce 1 unit (1kwh) of electricity while plants operating in Pakistan need 9,000 to 18,000 btu for the same amount of production. Arshad was of the view that when fuel is provided, we should be concerned about the output but neither any technical audit of these power plants was ever conducted nor any one dared to press them to improve their efficiency.


According Arshad Abbasi, the basic reason behind failure of successive governments to check this basic discrepancy was incompetency of government functionaries who were entrusted to run affairs. Arshad said that according to his research, Pakistan has lost more than 25 billion dollars only in power sector as what he dubbed as “Incompetency cost” during last few decades.


He said at least the new government should have come forward and announced that it was setting bench marks for the power generating units stating that if a specific plant was being provided a certain amount of oil or gas it must produce this much electricity.


He said that four days back, Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi and Farooq Abdullah inaugurated a 850 MW hydel power plant in Baglihar on Chenab river and Pakistanis are silent for obvious reasons. He said India want to sell this electricity to Pakistan.

Courtesy:  The News

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