Textile millers threaten to stage protests

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LAHORE: Textile millers have warned the government that they will resort to street protests if the ministry of water and power fails to restore normal electricity supplies to the industries in Punjab within a week. “We would have cooperated with the power suppliers had the electricity shortfall been because of the capacity constraints,” said Gohar Ejaz, group leader of All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA), during a press conference on Monday.

He said the country’s thermal power generation capacity stands at 14,000 megawatts, while that of hydropower is 6,400mw, which is entirely unused. Currently, the total production is around 9,600mw due to the government’s failure to arrange fuel for full capacity utilisation, though the country’s total power requirement in winter goes up to 12,000mw, he disclosed.

He wondered as to why the Pakistan Electric Power Company (Pvt.) Ltd. (Pepco) is not ensuring uninterrupted power supply to at least the textile industry, which maintains a 100 percent recovery record and zero line loss, in contrast to other sectors that turn out 65 percent average recovery and high line losses. The government could ensure power supplies to the textiles during the peak hours at Rs16 per unit, he suggested.

Chairman APTMA Ahsan Bashir asked the power sector managers to take cue from the petroleum ministry that has cooperated with the industry even amid acute natural gas shortages.

He said the ministry intervened from Houston this afternoon to restore gas supplies for three days a week to Punjab industries, he added.

He said the power authorities are not even prepared to sit down with the manufacturers. The issue of power supply could be resolved on the table through better management of power cuts. Moreover, he added the independent feeders of textile industry could ensure continuous supplies from dedicated independent power producers without any loss to the exchequer.

Chairman APTMA Punjab chapter Shahzad Ali Khan dismayed over the cut in power supplies to especially the Punjab industries. Power supplies to the industries in rest of the provinces are normal, he said.

According to the official schedule, he said the electricity outage span for the industrial sector is supposed to be 6 hours a day, whereas in reality, this goes in the range of 12 to 14 hours a day.

Lahore Electric Supply Company is supplying 300mw to the industries against the normal supplies of 550mw.

“The government has no right to close down the industries,” he said. The Punjab exports $1 billion a month of textiles and the provincial industries employ over a million workers. “In the wake of erratic power supply, the mills will be forced to lay off workers and default on export orders,” he added. “If anything like that happens, it will be a sad day for Pakistan.”

He said cement and energy sectors are self-sufficient in power generation, while other manufacturers could meet their small power requirements of 100 to 300 kilowatts through normal generators. Textile sector has installed gas generators at high cost. And, “to shift to coal-combusted power generation, we would have to invest $4.5 million to get 3mw, which we could not afford,” he added.

 

Courtesy: The News


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