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Need for CCI meeting underscored

All the opposition parties on Monday flayed the government in National Assembly for unabated load shedding and asked the government to convene an emergency meeting of the Council of Common Interest (CCI) on the issue. Shazia Marri, MNA of Pakistan People's Party (PPP), said that due to heatwave several people lost their lives while situation further deteriorated due to the inefficiency of the government as the country plunged into darkness.

Ending load-shedding was the major slogan in the election campaign of the government, however it failed to fulfil its promises. She added that an emergency meeting of the CCI should be called to address the situation. Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Vice Chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), said 132 people have lost their lives due to heatwave for the first time in Pakistan's history. He further said several complaints were received from Tharparkar where there has been no electricity since June 16. He said that about 18 to 22 hours loadshedding is being observed, which compelled people to take to the streets against the government and they even blocked motorway.

The government has doubled power tariff during last two years but neither line losses were addressed, nor infrastructure improved. At the same time, loadshedding also remained stagnant. The public now question the hefty amount paid from the taxpayers' money for clearing the circular debt, which is once again soared to Rs 300 billion, Quraishi added. He further said that federal government owes Rs 135 billion to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on net hydel generation which, if paid to the province, small dams could be constructed to overcome power crisis. KPK produces more electricity than it uses and supplies the surplus to the national grid, but is still suffering from load shedding, he added.

Abdul Waseem of MQM said that 106 people were killed due to a severe heatwave, but the number of deaths did not move the government. JI leader Sahibzada Tariq Ullah said that Malakand division is facing a 22-hour loadshedding. He criticised State Minister for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali's statement. He wanted to know why it took the government two years to figure out that there was problem with the transmission system. Sheikh Rasheed asked Finance Minister to reveal the LNG price and name the persons, having vested interests in the deal. Unless and until load shedding crisis is not resolved, we can't think of economic development, said Rasheed, adding that Gadhani, Nandipur and Bhasha dams are all failed projects. He further advised Finance Minister Ishaq Dar to divert all development funds to electricity generation projects.

Aftab Sherpao of Qaumi Watan Party said in his province even mosques are running out of water, adding that they had been screaming since Ramazan but their cries fell on deaf ears. He said that 20-hour loadshedding is being observed in his area and it is difficult to face the public as they are asking for electricity. A dangerous situation is emerging, which would have a colossal impact on all, he added.

Later, the opposition parties staged a walkout from the House in protest against prolonged power outages across the country. Talking to media outside the Parliament, Opposition Leader Khursheed Shah said increased load shedding has claimed scores of lives. Electricity cuts also crippled the Karachi's water supply system, hampering the pumping of millions of gallons of water to consumers. The federal government and K-Electric had promised there would be no outages during Sehar and Iftar. He pointed out that across Pakistan over 250 people have lost their lives due to the heat.

Rasheed Godil of MQM said that no one is addressing the sufferings of masses. "If a complaint is lodged, they reply that K-Electric has been privatised," he added. He came down hard on government, asking when will Karachi's water and power woes come to an end? He criticised the Prime Minister and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar; complaining that they do not even have time to meet elected representatives of Karachi, which provides 68% of the revenue to the government.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2015