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KBD definitely feasible, efforts on to reach consensus: govt

The Ministry of Water and Power on Friday informed the Lahore High Court (LHC) that Kalabagh Dam (KBD) project was definitely feasible and the federal government had been striving to develop consensus among all detractors.

Advocate Khwaja Tariq Rahim appeared on behalf of the ministry and Wapda and praised the LHC decision on the KBD. He stated that during the regime of former president Farooq Ahmad Khan Laghari, technicalities of the project were finalised but the construction of the dam could not be started due to some political reasons.

At this, the LHC Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial remarked that the name of KBD should be changed if some bad memories were attached to it.

The counsel stated that KBD name could be changed to Pakistan Dam. He was giving arguments in connection with a petition filed against electricity loadshedding and exemption to VVIPs premises in the country. He also produced some reports about production of electricity and loadshedding in the country.

The counsel further told the court that in the light of the decisions made by the Council of Common Interests (CCI), 300-MW power had been withdrawn from the Karachi Electric Supply Corporation (KESC) and added to the national grid. After this action, electricity loadshedding had been reduced in the country, he added.

He pointed out that out of a total of 21 million electricity consumers across country, two million consumed less than 100 units in a month and as many consumed less than 250 unites of electricity. The counsel said smart meters could be installed to supply uninterrupted electricity supply to consumers of below 300 units but it would require a huge finance. He said the government was already giving subsidy of Rs250 billion on electricity tariff.

Petitioner’s counsel Azhar Siddique pointed out that in India electricity was free for agriculture purpose. However, in Pakistan tube-wells were not given free electricity nor exempted from loadshedding.

Justice Bandial observed that agriculture sector was the backbone of the country’s economy. He asked the government’s counsel whether the court should order to exempt tube-wells from electricity loadshedding. The government counsel, however, stated that it was not possible as separate feeders would be required for the purpose. The CJ further remarked that the commercial consumers, who were willing to buy electricity on inflated tariffs, could be exempted from loadshedding. He observed that the court had faith in constitutional functionaries and had an expectation that they would discharge their duties to resolve the crisis of water and power.

The LHC CJ further pointed out Discos like Fesco, Lesco and Gepco should be given uninterrupted electricity supply due to 100 per cent billing recovery from these areas. The CJ adjourned further hearing till Dec 17 and summoned a representative of the National Power Control Centre (NPCC) to seek suggestions on the issue.

Judicial Activism Panel’s Chairman Azhar Siddique filed the petition and submitted that Punjab was being discriminated against and being given less share of electricity. He said in other provinces, electricity theft was committed at large scale and bill recovery was very low, even then Punjab was being victimised in electricity load-management plan. He pointed out that the power production was being affected due to non recovery of bills in other provinces. The petitioner said government doubled the miseries of people by exempting VVIPs from loadshedding. He stated that the failure in supplying electricity was violation of fundamental rights, envisaged in the Constitutionespecially under Article 9, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 19-A, 23, 24 and 25 of the Constitution.

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