Menacing load-shedding

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THE temporary relief that consumers got in load-shedding during winter season vanished with the onset of summer and now scheduled and unscheduled power shut down has assumed alarming dimensions. Apart from criticism by leaders of some opposition political parties, consumers too are protesting the phenomenon expressing apprehensions that claims about overcoming power shortage are mere slogans and the problem is going to last for an unspecified period.
The situation has rightly caused alarm bells to ring at PM House where Mian Nawaz Sharif convened a meeting on Tuesday to deliberate upon the causes of renewed and prolonged load-shedding and how relief can be ensured for consumers. The meeting was informed that electricity demand stood at 17,000 MW while generation stood at 10,000 MW and the shortfall has been attributed to fall in hydel power generation which, in turn, is the consequence of reduced water intake. But this doesn’t seem to be a plausible explanation as neither incessant rain in catchment areas of the dams have led to increase in their water level nor the rise in mercury. The fault lies somewhere else but authorities are reluctant to acknowledge, therefore, one should not hope for any meaningful relief in load-shedding in days and weeks to come. There are consistent reports that some of the IPPs were not operating at all or not operating at full capacity due to circular debt, a challenge the government has not been able to address effectively during the last four years. There are also question marks about real contribution of power plants added by present government especially the solar ones that produce less than one fifth of their stated capacity. This should be a cause for concern for govt as it has only one year left to deliver on this account. It is known to all that one of the major causes of wiping out of PPP during the 2013 general election was its inability to address the menace of load-shedding. Apart from adding more to national grid, efforts should also be made to reduce line losses by upgrading system and checking massive theft in areas known to everyone.