Power shortage soars to 5,600 megawatts mark

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Power loadshedding on Saturday peaked at 5600 MW due to soaring inter circular debt (non payment to Independent Power Producers), massive trippings and incompetence of Ministry of Water and Power and Pakistan Electric Power Company (Pepco). Widespread demonstrations have been witnessed in different parts of the country against long-drawn-out loadshedding and in some places the Police baton charged the angry protesters. On the other hand federal government has exempted Azad Kashmir from power loadshedding in view of the State Assembly elections, despite the fact that AJK which gets electricity from Iesco, Pesco and Gepco is one of the defaulters. While counting the reasons of power crisis, an official told Business Recorder that Finance Ministry was mainly responsible as it was not releasing the required funds to settle the inter-circular debt. He further clarified that one key reason for the worsening power crisis was that IPPs had stopped power supply to Central Power Purchase Agency (CPPA) due to non-payment of over due amount. Shortage of fuel is stated as the second reason. A number of power houses were also tripping because Pepco did not spend sufficient funds on the rehabilitation of the system. Kot Addu power plant is capable of producing 1400MW of electricity but is currently supplying half while the Gulf Powerhouse is supplying 62MW instead of 80MW. The sources said Pepco s billing for the first 10 months of current fiscal year (July-April 2010-11) was Rs 503 billion but the recovery was Rs 427 billion which was 85 per cent of the total billing whereas recovery during the same period last year was Rs 443 billion against the billing of Rs 423 billion, showing 105. 7 per cent recovery. AJK is a defaulter of Rs 10 billion followed by federal government of Rs 5. 4 billion, Balochistan Rs 9. 2 billion, Khyber Pakhtunkhawa (KP) Rs 2 billion, Punjab, Rs 9. 4 billion and Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) Rs 47 billion. Minister for Water and Power, Syed Naveed Qamar, had announced last month that all the Discos and NTDC had been directed to disconnect public and private sector consumers who were not paying their bills. He had cautioned that if the government failed to recover outstanding arrears from defaulters, Discos would collapse. He also stated that theft free and regular bill paying areas would not face load shedding. However the same Minister, who warned the defaulters of disconnection, has directed Pepco to ensure uninterrupted supply to AJK just for political point scoring. The sources said the government has shelved its plan to increase power tariff by two per cent because of worsening power situation across the country. I know that tariff for June will be raised just before the IMF team arrives in July, the sources continued.

Courtesy : Business Recorder

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