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Government not serious in resolving power crisis, PAC told

he Ministry of Water and Power on Thursday said the government was not serious in resolving the power crisis as it was not doing any planning in this regard and there was no technology to overcome the worsening situation.

The ministry also made a confession before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of issuing inflated bills and even in some cases fake ones, by the power distribution companies (Discos) to the consumers who were facing 18 to 20 hours loadshedding but paying hefty amounts as bills.

Secretary Ministry of Water and Power Zafar Mehmood told the committee that Discos were sending inflated bills presumably to cover up their line losses. The confession came at a meeting of the PAC here with Nadeem Afzal Chan in the chair in which audit paras relating to the ministry and its compliance of the PAC directives were considered.

The PAC members had pinpointed that despite facing 20 to 22 hours loadshedding, the people were receiving inflated bills. Even the PPP member of the PAC Noor Alam Khan said that in his constituency there is never-ending loadshedding, but still he received a bill of Rs50,000.

Zafar Mehmood told the PAC that 20 SDOs of Lesco were suspended for issuing inflated or fake bills. He also admitted that the Ministry of Water and Power did not have any record of the budgets of Discos.

On unannounced loadshedding in the country, Zafar Mehmood said sometimes the unannounced loadshedding is necessary to avoid tripping of the system as if once the system tripped then the country would also face a breakdown ofpower like the one that occurred recently in India.

The PAC chairman asked whether it would not be better if the discos were dissolved and we reverted to the old system. However, Zafar did not agree with him, saying that the old system would bring more trouble.

He said the demand for power was increasing with each passing day but no serious consideration was being given to power generation. “We have yet to decide whether we would go for hydel power, thermal, gas or coal.”

He dubbed the subsidies on the power sector as the mother of all problems, saying that the energy sector suffers an annual loss of Rs104 billion while Wapda has a deficit of Rs280 billion. He said the subsidy was given to consumers but the government did not pay it to Wapda. “The big question before us is how to bridge the gap of Rs280 billion, which, if not filled, would make us defaulters of PSO for their oil bills,” Zafar told the committee.

He was of the opinion that new technology was needed to stop the line losses. He told the committee the Council of Common Interests (CCI) has approved a uniform policy for loadshedding and a committee was formed for this purpose which would hold its first meeting tomorrow (Saturday).

Zafar Mehmood sought the help of the PAC for creating public awareness for less loadshedding where recovery rate is high. Noor Alam Khan pointed out that Pesco has given the contract for transformers to private companies which its officials admitted on the plea that Pesco lacks capability of manufacturing transformers. The PAC directed the Ministry of Water and Power to probe the awarding of contract to private companies.

The head of National Power Control System Masood Ahmed told the PAC that unannounced loadshedding was made to save the system from collapsing. Zafar Mehmood said the two representatives of all the discos would now sit at the National Power Control Centre.

Wapda officials gave details of loadshedding in the industrial and agricultural sectors and said that they have six-hour loadshedding for the industrial sector, 14 hours for the rural areas and six hours for tube wells.

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