Disrupts flights schedules; 10 killed, over 40 injured in accidents due to low visibility
Seventeen power stations tripped on Friday due to unprecedented dense smog in different parts of the country, causing 12-hour-long loadshedding as the collective power production was reduced by over 6,000 megawatts.
The Ministry of Energy said the smog-triggered tripping has also led to closure of all Chashma Nuclear Power Plants (C1, C2, C3, C4) where after necessary technical and security protocol, restoration is in progress and it is expected to get full capacity in approximately 72 hours.
Among the tripped circuits/grid stations 500KV Multan-DG Khan, 500KV Guddo747 circuit tripped along with Multan Bus Bar-1, 500KV Multan-Yousafwala circuit, 220KV Mgarh ph1-Bhwlpr cct 1 tripped at 04:42hrs, 220KV Multan-Vehari circuits-I and II, 220KV Vehari-Kassowal circuits-I and II, 220KV Kassowal-Yousafwala circuits-I & II, 220KV Multan-M/garh circuit-4, 220KV Multan-Kapco circuit-4 500KV Multan, 220KV Vehari, Kasowal and Chishtian grids and 220KV Yousafwala-Okara circuit. Under the directions of the federal government, the power sector has also closed all expensive furnace oil/diesel run power plants of a cumulative capacity of 4,250MW. The furnace oil plants include 950MW Hubco, 1,000MW Muzaffargarh, 400MW Jamshoro and 700MW Kapco. The diesel/furnace oil fired plants which are closed under the directions are Nishat Power, Chunian Power, Liberty, Hubco Norwal, Atlas and Kel, of cumulative capacity around 1,200MW.
Besides the hydel generation average has also come down to 2,700MW against its capacity of 7,000MW due to less release of water from reservoirs on provinces’ demand. The SNGPL has also curtained 200 mmcfd gas supplies due to maintenance between November 3 to 7, resulting in reduction of 500MW in the system. These factors in combination are negatively affecting the demand and supply situation in the country and the power distribution system needs load management for certain period.
The Power Division has directed the NPCC to chalk out a well-managed emergency load management plan for 72 hours till restoration of 1,200MW nuclear power plants. A separate load management plan after the approximate 72 hours based on demand-supply situation is also being prepared by the NPCC. However, since the demand is declining with decrease in the temperature, therefore, the situation is soon expected to show an improvement.
The distribution companies have also been directed to ensure maximum relief to consumers and ensure stability in the system. The distribution companies have also been directed to circulate the load management plan within their areas of operation for consumers’ information. The unprecedented dense smog is posing serious challenge to the national transmission system and the Power Division, NPCC, NTDC and Discos are closely monitoring the situation. Special teams and lines formations have been deputed by the NTDC and Discos to meet any emergent situation due to the weather conditions. Patrolling of all high transmission lines has been increased by the NTDC.
A thick blanket of smog continued to engulf various parts of Punjab including Lahore, creating breathing difficulties and irritation in eyes for the locals. Citizens are also facing immense difficulties in travelling as dense smog on night between Friday and Saturday dropped visibility down to zero. Medical experts have recommended sporting spectacles whilst in the open and a mask to keep smog and pollutants entering their system as locals are suffering from throat and eye infections due to the smog.
The smog continues to cover Punjab forcing road closures, flight disruptions and power outages. Over the last 24 hours, road accidents due to low visibility claimed more than 10 lives, leaving over 40 injured. Smog — a chemical reaction that causes air to be significantly polluted and hinders traffic visibility — has impaired traffic routes as well flight schedules.
The M3 motorway has been closed to all traffic while the M2 has been closed for heavy traffic. Extremely low visibility – 15 to 20 meters – is creating challenges for drivers leading to accidents.
Three people were killed while 18 were injured in various smog-related road accidents on Saturday. A multi-vehicle accident on M2 motorway — near Sargodha section and involving eight cars — left 10 people injured. The wounded were subsequently moved to Kot Addu Hospital, rescue sources said. A passenger van slammed into a truck in Sheikhupura, leaving 15 people injured. All the wounded belonged to the same family.
In Lahore, four people were brought to a local hospital after they were injured in a car crash.
Four others were hurt after an oil tanker ran over a motorbike before bumping into a truck in Arifwala. On the other hand, some five flights out of Multan and Faisalabad were cancelled due to the dense haze.
Earlier, three international flights — en route to Faisalabad — were disrupted; they were consequently diverted to Lahore. The smog has also triggered the closure of multiple sections of the motorway, primarily during nighttime. Motorway police commented that the visibility had dropped down to only 25-50 metres at various places from Lahore to Bhera. Authorities have, therefore, advised citizens to be careful while driving on highways and strongly recommended the use of fog lights. The Lahore Electric Supply Company has announced to carry out hour-long, scheduled load-shedding every hour on Saturday.
On the other hand, the duration of power outages in many cities of Sindh has also been extended. In order to curb the shortfall, the government has announced to re-open furnace oil-based power plants. The Chashma nuclear power plants which – according to the Atomic Energy Commission – were shut down due to a fault in the NTDC system, have also resumed producing electricity.
The Motorway police have appealed the drivers to use GT Road for travelling. They have also urged the drivers to drive slowly and switch on fog lights. The people have been requested to stay home and avoid unnecessary travelling.
In a wake of continuous smog in Punjab, an adjournment motion was presented in the provincial assembly by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, demanding vacations in educational institutions until the situation gets better.
Meanwhile, a dense blanket of smog on Saturday enveloped Peshawar after disrupting normal life in Punjab. The visibility dropped to zero due to fog which is creating immense difficulties in travelling for the citizens. The medics said that the diseases like flu, eye infection and sore throat are increasing due to delay in rains while they have also advised the people to take precautionary measures and use masks to cover their faces.