Says power utility not using its furnace oil power plants to save money, replaced
copper cables with cheaper silver ones that can’t withstand load
Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari lashed out at the K-Electric on Tuesday for subjecting the citizens of Karachi to prolonged spells of power outages and overbilling them at the same time.
“The K-Electric has the capacity to generate 1,800MW and receives 1,000MW from impendent power producers and WAPDA. But it only generates 400MW through gas-fired power plants and has practically shut down its furnace oil power plants to save money, while making the citizens suffer in the scorching heat,” he said in a press statement.
Bilawal said the old areas of Karachi including Lyari, Kharadar, and Keamari and the underprivileged localities of the city were being subjected to 8 to 12 hours of power outages every day.
The PPP chairman said the K-Electric, in its distribution network, had replaced copper wires with cheaper silver ones which were unable to withstand power load, further aggravating the crisis.
He also warned the K-Electric, the Hyderabad Electric Supply Company and the Sukkur Electric Power Company to stop overbilling their consumers.
He said if the power companies did not stop subjecting citizens to prolonged spells of power outages and overcharging them, the latter would be compelled to take to the streets.
A day earlier, the residents of Lyari had staged a protest outside the K-Electric’s headquarters near Punjab Chowrangi against power outages.
The protest was organised after a week-long deadline, issued by Lyari’s local leaders on May 17, ended yesterday with no significant improvement in the locality’s power supply scenario.
A day earlier, on Sunday, various civil society organisations had come together for a press conference where they called for legal action against the power utility.
The civil society leaders had demanded that the Sindh government should immediately take action against the KE for resorting to extended durations of unannounced loadshedding in the metropolis, in contravention of directives from the Sindh High Court (SHC) and National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra).
It was said that, as temperatures were rising with the onset of summers, KE had started extending the duration of loadshedding and power breakdowns were also becoming increasingly frequent.
The speakers had highlighted that in some areas, power was not available for days at end, as just this past week, residents of Baba and Bhit islands were protesting in the city over not having electricity for seven days, while a suburban areas of Karachi such as Ibrahim Hyderi, Gadap Town and Memon Goth were also among the worst-hit areas.
In response, KE issued a statement on Monday in which it maintained that the utility had not increased loadshedding duration in the city, and the process was being managed as per the announced schedule.
KE also claimed that there was no unannounced loadshedding in any part of the city and localised faults pertaining to a particular area or maintenance, should not be associated with loadshedding hours.
Power crisis deliberate
Bilawal also accused the federal government of deliberately creating a power crisis in the country, especially in Sindh and its capital Karachi, to divert the public’s attention from the Sharif family’s Panama. papers scandal.
The PPP chairman said the country needed 23,700MW while the power generation capacity was 23,600MW, and practically there was only a meagre shortfall of 100MW.
“But the federal government and its electric companies have created an artificial shortfall of 7,000MW while there is a severe heatwave persisting in the country,” he added.
Bilawal said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government had paid billions of rupees in circular debt and in some cases extra payments were made to the independent power producers, but had still created an artificial power shortage to make the masses suffer in the scorching heat. He stated that providing electricity was a state function as per the constitution but the PML-N government was targeting people with unannounced power outages, which should be condemned by every Pakistani.