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Don’t quiz us on power crisis for one year, minister tells NA

Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Asif on Tuesday told legislators in the National Assembly that the Nawaz Sharif government could not be held responsible for the crisis in the energy sector, which was caused by the misdeeds in the last 10-15 years of previous governments and no questions should be asked for the next six months or even a year in this regard.

He was responding to a call attention notice on the power crisis that has aggravated in most of the country with some areas in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and many districts of the Punjab, particularly Jhang and Chiniot, experiencing more than 20 hours of loadshedding.

The notice was moved by Naeema Akhter, Shahida Akhter Ali, Asiya Nasir and GhulamBibi Bharwana to draw the attention of the minister towards the prolonged loadshedding. Khawaja Asif informed the House that a comprehensive and coordinated policy on electricity crisis would be announced soon.

He said the policy would not carry promises but a roadmap to reduce loadshedding in the country equally. He said this policy would be presented before the House and we would be accountable for any lapses. “We should not be held accountable for the shortcomings of the past governments,” he added.

The minister said their first target was to end unscheduled power outages and adhere to scheduled loadshedding. In the short-term, their target was to significantly reduce loadshedding in order to provide relief to the masses.

Khawaja Asif said every possible effort was being made to ensure equal loadshedding in all the provinces. He said loadshedding had decreased during the last few days due to an increase in hydel generation. This situation will further improve in the next few days.

About his government’s medium-term policy, the minister told the House that all available resources would be exploited not only to overcome loadshedding but also to generate cheap electricity. The minister stated there was a shortfall of 700MWs in the KP with 14-hour loadshedding in rural areas, 12 hours in urban areas while power remained off for commercial and industrial units for eight hours.

He expressed the hope that 600-700MWs electricity was expected to be added to the national grid and the government was working on a roadmap to ensure equitable loadshedding as had also been directed by the Supreme Court.

Answering a question, the minister said during the previous government the Council of Common Interests (CCI) had decided to introduce uniform loadshedding for all parts of the country but the decision could not be implemented.

He said that hydel power projects could take seven to eight years to complete.Later, commenting on the minister’s statement, Leader of the Opposition, Syed Khursheed Shah, reminded the government of its promises to masses about overcoming loadshedding within days.

He said the former opposition leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan used to say that the PPP government could control loadshedding in three days if it desired. “We should not use hyperbolic language,” he said. He said the PML-N leader in the opposition also used to say that the PPP government was not utilising full capacity togenerate 20,000MWs of electricity.

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