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Punjab’s power woes remain elusive

Last minute intervention by Ahmad Mukhtar, Federal Minister for Water and Power, has averted the textile workers’ agitation in Faisalabad but during negotiations, he was elusive about the full restoration of power supply to Punjab industries.

The general body of All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) met the minister on Friday afternoon along with the stakeholders of different textile sectors from Faisalabad to sort out Punjab’s power outages problem.

Mukhtar said that power generation has declined due to various factors. However, he could not justify the suspension of electricity supply to Punjab industries only. He admitted that power shortfall was due to shortage of furnace due to which many power units remained idle. “The position would improve in three days,” he said.

The textile millers reacted strongly to the minister’s vague assurance and threatened to come out on streets. After having discussions with someone, the minister announced that the mills would be operational on Monday. He still did not specify the duration for which power supply would be restored.

The textile sector representatives demanded that power shortages be shared equally in all provinces. Mukhtar assured that from now onwards, no Punjab specific outages would take place.

There was an element of mistrust during the negotiations. Most of the textile sector stakeholders termed the minister’s assurances as a ploy to gain time. Some members, particularly, the knitwear manufacturers from Faisalabad threatened that if power to industries in Punjab was not restored by Monday then they would take over the province’s power distribution companies immediately.

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