October 11, 2017
PTI promises to generate more electricity end up in intensified outages in KP
* With PTI-led government in its fifth year, southern districts of province still experience 12-hour to 16-hour unannounced load shedding
by Rehmat Mehsud
ISLAMABAD: Contrary to the commitment made by Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) that it would produce surplus electricity within five years of its rule, remote parts of the province, especially the southern districts, still experience 12-hour to 16-hour load shedding, locals as well as public representatives say.
A number of residents of southern districts of Tank and DI Khan told Daily Times that frequent unannounced power breakdowns have seriously disturbed their routine life and business activities besides leaving home appliances such as refrigerators and water pumps damaged many a time.
PTI Chairman Imran Khan in his interview with a private TV channel soon after forming the government in the northwestern province had said the PTI government was striving to make KP a model province in terms of progress and development. “Within five years, KP will be able to produce enough energy to supply to other provinces,” he had claimed.
But Khalid Anwar, a government servant, says that the Gomal locality, vast tracts of plains on the edge with South Waziristan Agency, still faces 14-hour to 17-hour daily power outages. “We have one hour of electricity after every five hours. The tragedy is that fluctuation in electricity voltage has left my home appliances damaged,” he noted.
According to the election manifesto of the PTI, the party will re-focus investment in the energy sector from thermal and furnace oil to hydel, coal, and gas for power generation. In addition, the de-regulation and liberalisation policy would be adopted to develop local energy resources for consumption at affordable rates besides restructuring of WAPDA to improve the efficiency of power generation, transmission and distribution.
Allauddin Khan, another resident, said Tank district experiences 12-hour to 14-hour daily electricity blackout. “Tragedy is that there is no schedule for the load shedding ... it is their sole discretion when they cut or restore power supply,” he said.
Noor Islam, a resident of Pahar Pur locality in Dera Ismail Khan district, said his village experiences at least 12-hour power cuts daily. “We are paying inflated electricity bills despite heavy load shedding. Low voltage is another grave issue ... sometimes batteries of our mobile phones wouldn’t even charge due to low voltage,” he said.
The PTI manifesto also stated that steps would be taken to develop a commercially viable power tariff structure to protect the weaker sections of the society from unbridled increase in utility rates and yet generate enough resources for future investment and expedite rural electrification so that 80 per cent of the villages have power.
Atif Khan, KP minister for energy and power, could not be reached for comments. However, Asad Ali Shah, media officer at power and energy department, said that according to PESCO most of the consumers don’t pay electricity bills which leads to several problems including the power shortage. He said as weather has changed and the use of air conditioners has reduced, now KP doesn’t face big gap in demand and supply of power.
“The demand was 2,100 megawatts in summer season while we had 1,650 to 1,700 megawatts of supply. Now as the weather has changed, demand stands at 1,800 megawatts … there is no gap in demand and supply,” he noted.
The provincial government, he said, has already launched several projects to generate 4,000 megawatts of electricity, including 356 mini or small dams having a capacity of 35 megawatts. “These mini or small dams are being built in remote areas where there is no electricity, with 250 projects have already been completed. These are small projects, having 50 kilowatts, 80 kilowatts or 100 kilowatts capacities,” he noted.
MPA Jafar Shah from the Awami National Party (ANP) recalled the PTI had promised to build 350 small dams but no progress could be made except generating 35 kilowatts of electricity from some two or three small projects.
“The PTI has started work on two or three small projects but it is widely believed that the provincial government has failed to utilize the funds properly,” he added.
MPA Muhammad Ali Shah Bacha of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) said the PTI has built or is working on only three or four small projects including the one in Kalam. “However, overall they have failed to produce any additional electricity,” he opined, adding, “PTI Chairman Imran Khan inaugurated a small project in Kalam, which was earlier inaugurated by the previous government as well.”