The government on Monday announced that additional 2,000 megawatts were expected to be added to the supply grid by the end of the week, which would reduce the duration of load shedding.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad with federal ministers and other government members after a cabinet meeting on load shedding and power issues, Adviser on Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Qamar Zaman Kaira said, “Inflow has improved in rivers and Tarbela [Dam] is filling up better, so it is expected that around 2,000MW of additional cheap electricity from hydel energy will enter the system by the week’s end and reduce load shedding.” He said monsoon rains had contributed to increasing flow in rivers.
Minister for Power Khurram Dastgir said that “in the next four to five days before Eidul Azha”, Tarbela Dam would start its full power production at 3,500MW and bring “considerable reduction” in load shedding.
“In those same days, we are also expecting that our K2 nuclear plant, which is being refuelled, [will be operational], so its 1,100MW will enter the system and the whole nation can expect great relief on Eid,” he added.
Kaira said Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had strictly instructed the authorities concerned to restrict load shedding to no more than three hours.
He also said that the cabinet decided not to install any new power plant that depended on imported fuel, adding that only the plants operated using local fuels would be used for power generation in the future.
Kaira blamed the previous government for the country’s present power woes. He said the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government had failed to take “timely decisions” and set up production plants, terming it “criminal negligence”.
“We have around 24,000MW available today with the demand at 30,000MW, because of which there has been acute load shedding,” he said.
He added that the existing demand could not be met even if the country utilised all its power plants – nuclear, thermal, hydel, wind and solar.
“The responsibility for this is not on the current government. This [gap] did not appear in two months. This is the negligence that Imran Khan’s government [committed] by not setting up power plants in his four years.”
Kaira also said that the PTI had failed to complete existing projects on time, adding that had they been completed, the load shedding situation would not have been as dire as it was today.
Elaborating on the future outlook, Dastgir said the country’s power situation would improve next year with the operationalisation of power projects of 4,623MW initiated by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government during its previous tenure. He added that a total of 7,000MW would enter the system from the projects, as well as others such as solar power and private net metering. Speaking on the occasion, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said half of the total electricity generation capacity had been installed during the previous tenure of the PML-N.
On the other hand, Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Miftah Ismail said the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was on track.
The minister said there had been some tweets and stories about the IMF programme being postponed or delayed due to some anti-corruption law, which was not true.
“I have been reading with some amusement all the tweets and stories about IMF program[me] being postponed or delayed due to some anti-corruption law. There is no truth to it. The IMF program[me] is on track,” he tweeted.
It is pertinent to mention here that Pakistan received the Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies (MEFP) in the last week of June from the IMF for combined 7th and 8th reviews under the EFF.
In May 2019, Pakistan and the IMF reached a staff-level agreement on economic policies for a three-year EFF.
Under the agreement, Pakistan was to receive about $6 billion for a period of 39 months, and so far it has received almost half of it.