Govt order markets, shopping malls to close at 9pm

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The Sindh government has ordered all the markets, shops, bazaars, and shopping malls in the province to close their businesses at 9pm every day in an attempt to conserve energy as the  country faces a growing power shortfall.

The Sindh home secretary issued the order which takes effect at 5pm on  Friday (today) and will remain in force for one month until July 16. The government has also ordered all the wedding halls and banquet halls to shut down by 10:30pm while all the hotels, restaurants, coffee shops,  and cafes have been told to close by 11pm. However, some establishments have been granted exemption from this  order. Medical stores, pharmacies, hospitals, petrol pumps, CNG  stations, bakeries, and milk shops can operate late into the night.The government has cited “prevalent power outages, load shedding of the electricity” and the shortfall between supply and demand of electricity  as the reason for its decision.

The order also refers to the June 7 decision of the federal cabinet for taking “effective measures to reduce load-shedding hours through conservation of the energy” and implementing a national strategy for  tackling the energy crisis.Pakistan faces around 6.5 gigawatts energy shortfall that has led to  increased power outages across the country.

On June 7 at the meeting of the National Economic Council, the chief  ministers of three provinces and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief secretary  representing CM Mahmood Khan agreed to the federal government’s proposal  of closing markets earlier. The order issued by the Sindh chief secretary hinted at a lurking danger  to public order amid growing power shortages that may spark protests  from the people.

The secretary said that he was issuing the order “in view of apprehended danger of the energy shortfall in the country and in the  larger interest of the general public to ensure their safety and to  prevent nuisance and in order to avert the adverse impacts stated  supra.”

The provincial government has authorized the SHOs of police stations to  register cases against the violators and empowered the district  administrations to act against them.The SHOs will register complaints under Section 188 of the Pakistan Penal Code against people violating the order while “any violation of  this order shall also invite action under Section 33 of the National  Disaster Management Authority Act 2010 by the respective district  administration,” the order warned.