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Provinces agree to two-day holiday, closing markets at 8pm

Provinces finally agreed Friday to issue notification next week to implement a two-day holiday a week and close markets at 8pm to cope with the power crisis. The two-day holiday in a week will help save 700MW and closure of markets at 8PM 250MW per day.

During an Inter-Ministerial meeting held on Friday chaired by Water and Power Minister Syed Naveed Qamar, provinces gave the go ahead to implement two day holidays a week. Provinces were also requested to finalise and implement the rest of the recommendation of the energy conference like the closure of commercial establishments at 8pm to save 250MW daily.

The Punjab minister told the meeting that it has completed its homework to implement the closure of markets at 8 pm, but it is most important to implement this in Karachi in letter and spirit.

An official of the Ministry of Water and Power said that the country was facing prolonged power outages and one of themajor reasons was the drop in hydel power generation as water level sin reservoirs went to dead level. The water level in Tarbela and Chashma is still at dead level while Mangla dam has some water storage. Circular debt is another reason that has worsened the energy crisis in the country.

The provinces showed their willingness over the proposal of five working days in a week and agreed to notify it shortly, following the implementation of a decision of the energy conference. According to a statement issued by the Water and Power Ministry the meeting was briefed that a plan of equitable loadshedding in the major cities and industrial sector, keeping in view the daily demand and supply situation, was being implemented. The provinces were requested to finalise and implement the rest of the recommendations like closure of commercial establishments at 8pm to save 250MW daily. The minister directed the National Power Control Center to share power generation and demand and supply data along with the load management plan to the province on a daily basis in order to take provincial authorities on board in this regard.

Naveed Qamar also asked the ministry to submit for approval the revised Electricity Act 1910 with the maximum punishment for electricity theft, as decided in the energy conference, at the next meeting of the Council of Common Interest. The Power Ministry official said the Law Ministry had informed the Water and Power Ministry that law already existed to punish consumers involved in power theft.

The meeting was briefed on the current demand and&\ supply situation and load management schedule. Maximum relief is being passed on to industrial dedicated feeders, which are being provided with un-interrupted supply. It was also informed by the Petroleum Secretary that 134 MMCFD additional gas has been allocated for the power sector. The meeting was told that NEPRA has been asked to increase the lifeline consumer slab to 100 units. The decision regarding disconnection of billboards is being implemented along with alternate switching of streetlights.

Earlier, provincial representatives gave a briefing on current loadshedding in their respective province and expressed their point of view. The meeting also discussed implementation on other decisions taken at the energy conference like the installation of prepaid meters by Discos in the federal and provincial offices, replacement of florescent bulbs with CFLs and payment of outstanding dues by the provinces.

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