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New govt faces mega challenge in shape of energy crisis

Pepco former Managing Director Tahir Basharat Cheema has said that Pakistan is ‘Marzipura’, a land where everyone is free to do whatever he likes with impunity. It is time now for tough government to take over which is committed to banish mismanagement.

It is time to force government departments to pay their bills. It is time to extract money due from defaulters. The federal government owes Rs7 billion in power bills, provincial governments Rs80 billion, AJK Rs23 billion, and KESC Rs45 billion. Even if we are able to make them cough out even half of the amount, we can rein in the power crisis to a tangible extent.

Tahir Basharat expressed these views while talking to Hamid Mir, the host of Geo News programme ‘Capital Talk’ on Monday. Others who participated in the debate on: ‘The Real Cause of Load Shedding: Shortage of Power or Mismanagement and Theft’, were Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Vice Chancellor Dr Maasoom Yasinzai, SDPI Executive Director Dr Abid Sulehri, Mirpur Citizens Action Committee President Sadar Aijaz Nazir and Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Mian Zahid Aslam. At the outset of the programme a report on the difficulties being suffered by students of Quaid-i-Azam University, prepared by Subookh Syed was aired. In addition to that in his report Saifur Rehman apprised the viewers of the lies told by government officials.

The Pepco ex-MD further said that theft of electricity was a very big problem confronting us. Moreover some people do not pay the bills. “What we urgently need now is the implementation of law.

We will have to end mismanagement and check electricity theft at all costs. For coal mining we will need the assistance of China which can help us to a great extent. But for the total solution of the problem we will have to rely on self sufficiency. Saudi Arabia, China, and the US will certainly help us but first of all we will have to overcome the problem of mismanagement,” Cheema said.

Dr Maasoom Yasinzai said that the concept of universities has changed the world over, but unfortunately in our country it is still considered as a degree-awarding institution. Today society has pinned high hopes on universities. Research tells that the electricity crisis can be overcome to some extent with molasses and bagasse in sugar industry. We have started mulling over power plant for each university of its own. He said that Allah has gifted Pakistan with 185 billion tonnes of coal but we do not use even 2% for overcoming the power crisis, whereas most of the countries generate electricity with coal.

Dr Abid Sulehri said that in order to give subsidy, Nawaz Sharif will have to raise the tariff. Power crisis cannot be solved with a paltry Rs10 billion. A huge sum of Rs742 billion is needed to end the circular debt.

He said, “You cannot be a successful businessman if you spend Rs16 to produce something and sell it for only Rs7. To raise tariff is not the solution of the problem. We will have to change our fuel for generating electricity.”

He further said that if there was no loadshedding in Karachi, it was only because of subsidy. “As long as Karachi received subsidised electricity, all was hunky dory. But now even residents of Karachi are facing the scourge of loadshedding. Thar coal is not suitable for generating electricity for the reason that during transportation when it comes into contact with oxygen, it catches fire.” He agreed that Pakistan State Oil (PSO) had been supplying adulterated oil to generation plants. The Ministry of Water and Power had got its analysis at Kot Addu which revealed that there was 8% water n the furnace oil.

The adulterated oil impacted our machinery negatively. Our research tells us that with the use of this adulterated oil we are suffering a loss of Rs42 billion a year. If the Nawaz government succeeds in overcoming mismanagement in the first 100 days in office, 35% of the power crisis would have been solved.

Mian Zahid Aslam said that the need of building new dams has acquired an unprecedented urgency. We are ignoring cheaper electricity and are opting for costlier electricity. The new government will have to take immediate steps to check power theft. It has never happened in history that traders, industrialists, and exporters all have taken to streets.

Sardar Ijaz Nazir said that of all parts in Azad Kashmir, the residents of Mirpur pay hefty bills regularly. We have been told that Mirpur would be exempted from loadshedding. However, such promises have been made in the past as well which were never fulfilled.

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