Load-shedding refuses to go

STRANGE and treacherous developments are taking place these days, which are beyond comprehension of the layman and are also perplexing experts and neutral observers. Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and other government leaders on record having said on more than one occasions that power outages would become history from November and there would be no load-shedding of gas for all consumers but the menace of power load-shedding has multiplied with the onset of November, making mockery of tall claims of the leaders.
The extent of the problem can be gauged by the fact that eight hours of load-shedding is done in Islamabad and Rawalpindi and there are reports of no electricity in neighbouring Azad Kashmir for days. The explanation offered by Power Division on Friday explaining the circumstances and the reasons for deplorable state of affairs seems to be half truth. Non-availability of 1200 MW of nuclear power is understandable as their restoration, after tripping reportedly caused by smog in Punjab, would take 72 hours because of procedures and protocols involved. But one fails to understand other justifications provided by the Division for prolonged outages and preparation of a separate load management programme after 72 hours when nuclear power is expected to be back in the system. It was a week ago (October 27) when the Prime Minister chaired a meeting reviewing the power situation and he was told that the country will have 3,400 MW of surplus electricity from next four months i.e. from November 2017 to February 2018. The projections were made after deducting any unforeseen outages from IPPs and Gencos and non-availability of gas for power plants in winter. No doubt, the Prime Minister gave instructions for closure of non-efficient and fuel-intensive old power plants but in a phased manner but it seems the measure has been taken abruptly and as a consequence the entire scheme of things has come down. One may ask whether projections made during the high level meeting just a week back were wrong or the proposition adopted by the Power Division on Friday was misleading. It seems efforts are being made to deprive the Government of the credit for making the country load-shedding free and the Government has been trapped by some officials. There had been country-wide outages due to tripping of the system but regrettably no measures have so far been taken for stand-alone regional solution of the problem. This should be prioritized.

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