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Energy and responsibility!

Ali Moeen Nawazish

Summers are near and while last year there was the problem of load shedding on everyone’s mind, this year there are two. A large fuel price hike and huge load shedding which didn’t even abate during the winters.

The government due to its massive corruption and lack of will has failed miserably in addressing any of these concerns, not only due to a lack of technical skill and knowledge but also due to a blase’ attitude towards planning and the problems of the people coupled with hopes to make a quick buck with Rental Power Projects (RPPs) and kickbacks. It is indeed disgusting that even when the people of Pakistan are suffering like they never have in the past sixty years, the people in power still live in their bubbles focusing only on squeezing out more and more money through corruption. I can’t hold back the anger and rage that I feel towards this ‘joke’ that has been played with the people of Pakistan, and yes it has been, is and forever will be a ‘joke’.

Yet I don’t want to waste more time with people that I have no more expectations from. I want to focus on what I can do, and what an ordinary Pakistani can do to curb this crisis first. Only then will asking the government for steps will be justifiable. One thing that we as Pakistanis can always be proud of is our ingenuity and our ability to push on through the most difficult situations. We are strong enough that we have not been broken by suicide blasts and multiple crises over the past few years. We need to show that resolve once again.

Our initial and general reaction to the fuel and electricity crisis is one that is generally negative. We protest, we break things, we damage property and we shout slogans. The fact is that doing all of that doesn’t really help in solving the problem. Destroying electric supply companies offices, burning fuel stations and breaking equipment at grid stations will only make the problem worse. What we can do however is focus on conservation and helping ourselves.

I was taking a taxi the other day and the taxi driver was naturally enraged over the fuel reaction. Yet his driving style had not changed. He was rapidly accelerating and rapidly braking, burning more petrol in the process than he normally would have. He could have helped himself by tuning his car and driving not only more fuel efficiently but more responsibly. Accelerating slowly and braking slowly can increase fuel efficiency by at least 20% according to a recent study conducted by an international car company.

Similarly we need to be more responsible users of electricity. This responsibility needs to start at the home. How many unnecessary lights do we leave on? Do people really need two fridges? Turning off fans and unnecessary lights can make a difference, and turning of unnecessary air conditioners can too help. Can’t families sleep in one room or two rooms with A/Cs rather than having A/Cs in every single room of the house? While this is not the case for most of the population, it is a heavy unfair consumption by some. Turning off one bulb and fan can save about 200 Watts of power an hour, if even one hundred, we can save a substantial amount of electricity.

Especially for our commercial sector, one small shop does not need a hundred light bulbs to light up the store. That is a huge waste of energy which can be used to light up to 50 homes! There should be strict restrictions on the number of lighting and signage that shopkeepers and commercial stores can place in their buildings and shops. Don’t force them to close early, just monitor and restrict their consumption. They will be much happier doing that knowing they can do business longer.

We should also try to replace our general lighting and bulbs with energy saving one’s specially light emitting diodes (LEDs) which consume next to nothing compared with a normal halogen light bulb. While these are expensive in the short term they are much cheaper in the long run. The government can step in specially here by reducing import duties on such items and even if some form of subsidy in the form of reduced or no import tariffs is given it will pay off for the government too in the long run. The government should encourage and not discourage the purchase of energy saving lighting.

Another thing that the government can help is promoting the manufacture and sale of solar powered air conditioners. These are available but currently subject to not only higher tariff ranges which make them about 40% expensive than their normal counterparts, but also they are also subject to an extra duty being a luxury item. If these duties are removed then they will become cheaper than normal A/Cs and as they consume about 60% less power than conventional A/Cs they will reduce the hit on national grid as well.

The media can act as the bridge by repeatedly conveying the point of view of experts and solutions, along with exposing the corrupt ways of those who seek to profit from this crisis and misfortune. The media has a huge responsibility to convey this message to those in power, and tell them that the people of Pakistan are keeping watch. It also needs to educate people about conservation, and there was a special programme of Capital Talk with Hamid Mir which focused exactly on this issue.

There is no short-term solution to the huge problem we are in right now. We need to be patient and show resolve. We need to play our part and put pressure on the government to play its. However, destruction and negativity will not get us out of this crisis, our resolve and will to find solutions will.

The writer is Youth Ambassador of Geo and Jang Group. Email: am.nawazish@janggroup.com.pk Facebook: facebook.com/ali.moeen.nawazish

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