Dastgir suspects foreign hand in power break down

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Electricity completely restored; Cabinet mulls strategy to prevent power outages; PM apologises to nation

Ijaz Kakakhel
Islamabad

Federal Minister for Power Engineer Khurram Dastgir on Tuesday suspected a foreign hand in the massive country-wide power breakdown.

During a press conference the Minister said that the government wass concerned about the back-to-back failure of the national grid and will investigate whether the system was “hacked” by external forces. He said that the electricity system in the country has been fully restored following a breakdown that occurred on Monday morning at 7:30am due to voltage drop. He added that the cause of the voltage drop remains unknown, and an investigation into the matter was currently ongoing. The minister said that the power plants across the country were shut down as a preemptive measure. However, the system was restored completely at 5:15am Tuesday.

Dastagir said that the power demand in January usually remains low – around 8,000 MWs – due to cold weather while expressing doubt that the system could have been hacked by external attacks.

The minister also thanked the minister of water resources and WAPDA Chairman Lt-Gen Sajjad Ghani (Retd) for their efforts in restoring electricity. He criticized the previous government for not investing enough in the system.

K-Electric had improved the internal system regarding damages, but had not started producing their own electricity, he said and added that the electric supply company had not started restoration yet which is why some areas of Karachi were still without electricity. The minister said that the committee formed by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will submit its report in a week.

Khurram Dastgir further said that there was enough fuel for the generation of power, to run the thermal power plants. The heavy-consuming power plants are used rarely to maintain the fuel price adjustment.

The minister said that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has constituted a three-member committee to find out the reasons behind the power breakdown. The ministry will cooperate with the committee headed by Musadiq Malik.

Nuclear plants need two to three days while coal power plants required 48 hours to start. Hence the shortfall of power will carry on for some time.

Earlier, the Ministry of Energy claimed on Tuesday that all 1,112 grid stations of the country’s national grid have been restored.

“All 1,112 grid stations restored within 24 hours nationwide,” tweeted the ministry. It is pertinent to note here that power was still not restored to large parts of Karachi, including, Gulistan-e-Johar, Malir, Gulshan-e-Maymar, Gulshan-e-Hadeed, Landhi, Saddar and several other areas as reported. The country had plunged into darkness Monday morning due to a fault in the national grid.

Dastgir further said that there will be a shortage of electricity and the citizens will face load-shedding in the next 48 hours. He added that the system will be completely restored by Thursday. He said that National Transmission and Despatch Company’s 1,112 grid stations across Pakistan have been restored.

Dastgir said that the power in areas served by Peshawar Electric Supply Company and Islamabad Electric Supply Company was restored Tuesdaymorning. Moreover, the electricity in the flood-affected areas in Sindh and Balochistan was restored Monday.

When asked whether he will resign as there have been two breakdowns during his tenure, Dastgir said that those who didn’t invest in the project in the last four years should be held responsible.

Dastgir said despite the extensive breakdown, there were some areas in the federal capital and Peshawar where the electricity remained available all the time. Similarly, there was no disruption in power in the flood hit areas of Sindh and Balochistan.