Power outages, torrid heatwave disrupt life

Discos conduct 10 to 12 hours loadshedding in their rural and urban limits, according to official sources

Hours-long power outages combined with the torrid heatwave have created an unbearable situation for the people, particularly in southern and western parts of the country.

The government appears to be failing at ending load-shedding despite promises. The installed power generation capacity of Pakistan is above 37,000 megawatts-11,000MW more than the current demand-but the national energy basket is receiving over 21,000MW from all sources, say officials in power sector.

More than 2,500MW from the available generation is dedicated to VIP feeders, defense installations and Karachi Electric, leaving over 18,000MW for the rest of the population, creating an overall shortfall of more than 7,000MW. Meanwhile, power theft and line losses go unchecked, further widening the gap between demand and supply. The situation is compelling the power distribution companies (Discos) of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan to conduct 10 to 12 hours load shedding in their rural and urban limits, according to official sources.

The Discos are hitting hard the rural areas and the small cities away from media radar and officially describe the outages duration as four to six hours, contrary to the ground situation. The Lahore Electric Supply Company on Thursday claimed it was conducting four-hour load management, exactly at a time when even 60 percent of the city areas were in the grip of six to eight hours outages while rural areas under LESCO were facing eight to 10 hours blackouts.

Thursday’s generation figures, said sources, from IPP (independent power producers) was 16,902MW, a major contribution for the national grid. The plants on wind power, solar and bagasse produced 709MW, 310MW and 181MW, respectively and WAPDA-owned hydropower plants produced 4,287MW, more than 2,000MW less than the installed capacity due to decreased outflows from major dams.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had promised to end load shedding from May 1 but its duration further increased a month after his promise. Fuel shortages problem and the “decision of the government to keep close some power plants run on costly fuel” is the major reason behind load-shedding. Energy Minister Khurram Dastagir has already informed the people the problems will continue throughout the summer.

Meanwhile, weather remained hot and dry in most parts of the country on Thursday and very hot in the plains, according to metrological office. However, rain-thunderstorm occurred at isolated places in upper Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit-Baltistan and Potohar region. Rainfall (mm): Punjab: Rawalpindi (Shamsabad 4), Murree 2, Chakwal 1, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: Pattan 3, Kalam, Dir (Upper) 1, Gilgit Baltistan: Bagrote 2, Babusar, Gilgit 1.

The highest temperature was recorded in Dadu and Jacobabad at 47 while it was 46 in Shaheed Benazirabad, Rohri, Khairpur and Bahawalpur. Mainly hot and dry weather is expected in most plains of the country today (Friday) while very hot in south Punjab and upper Sindh. However, rain-wind/thunderstorm is expected at a few places in Gilgit Baltistan and adjoining areas.

Iftikhar Alam is a correspondent writing on religion, politics, agriculture, and energy. He takes people on a rich journey through the culture of Punjab. He tweets @imiftikharalam and can be reached at iftikharalam@live.com.