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Sindh warns CCI of riots over 350MW cut

The chief minister of Sindh has warned the federal government that if 350 megawatts of electricity are withdrawn from the city, it might trigger power riots.

Syed Qaim Ali Shah said on Thursday the Karachi Electricity Supply Company (KESC) might stop its operations in case the supply of 350MW from the national grid was cut off, triggering power riots that might compound the law and order problem in the provincial capital.

He expressed these fears in a meeting of the Council of Common Interests (CCI), which debated the issue on January 23 in Islamabad, it was learnt here.

Shah contended that Karachi was the commercial hub of Pakistan and the withdrawal of 350MW from the KESC without activating its “idle capacity” would worsen the situation.

However, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, who represented the chief minister of his province, stressed the implementation of an earlier CCI decision to withdraw 350MW. He pointed out that Punjab was facing “severe loadshedding”, and asked the government to implement the decision in letter and spirit.

Replying to a query by Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, who chaired the CCI meeting on the KESC stance on the issue, Water and Power Secretary Nargis Sethi noted that four notices were issued to the KESC authorities, who were told to attend meetings of the committee constituted by the CCI. However, she said, the power utility’s authorities had neither responded to the notices nor attended any meeting.

She claimed that the KESC was involved in excessive use of electricity from the national grid. She said it had been made clear to the KESC authorities that the CCI was the constitutional body and not abiding by its decision was equal to the “violation of the Constitution”.

Sethi revealed that a reference containing all the necessary documents, including the KESC’s privatisation agreement, had been given to the Law and Justice Division to solicit its advice on the matter.

The prime minister observed that the government needed to implement the CCI decision, and that the government should not be “maligned or blackmailed”.

Minister for Finance Abdul Hafeez Sheikh proposed that the Sindh chief minister should take steps to implement the CCI decision. The chief minister informed that he was willing and ready to play his role to resolve the issue.

However, the prime minister directed the water and power secretary to send another notice to the KESC and send an endorsed copy to the chief minister.

The participants were informed that the CCI in its meeting on November 8, 2012, had approved recommendations of the committee led by the minister for water and power. It had advised that modalities should be worked out for the withdrawal of 350MW from the KESC as well as for the financing of an oil bill required for “activating the KESC’s idle capacity”.

The CCI had also decided that the sale purchase agreement of the KESC needed to be looked into to determine the responsibility of the power utility to increase power generation. It was stressed that this decision should be implemented and a progress report submitted at the next meeting of the CCI.

It was also decided that the federal and provincial governments should clear their current electricity bills promptly, and in case there was any complaint about over-billing, it should be settled.

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