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ISLAMABAD: The Cabinet Committee on Energy (CCoE) has expressed dissatisfaction at inquiry reports of countrywide power breakdown on January 9, 2021, with Power Division trying to protect the top brass of National Transmission & Despatch Company (NTDC), sources close to SAPM on Power Tabish Gauhar told Business Recorder.

This was the crux of a meeting of the CCoE held on March 15, 2021 with Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives, Asad Umar in the chair. The Committee went through the findings of the inquiry reports but was not happy with the findings. Finance Minister, Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, appeared wary of the outcome of the inquiry reports.

On March 16, 2021, the Federal Cabinet, presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan, ratified the decision of the CCoE.

Sharing details, sources said Power Division noted that on January 9, 2021, at 23:41:10 hrs. 500 kV Guddu Shikarpur Circuit No. 01 & 02 tripped and at the same time 500 kV Guddu Muzaffargarh & Guddu — DG Khan Transmission lines also tripped, which caused countrywide power system breakdown.

On the direction of Power Division two inquiries were ordered to determine the reasons why a countrywide power breakdown occurred on January 9, 2021. One inquiry, constituted by Board of Central Power Generation Company Limited (Genco-II), was mandated to look into the causes of tripping incident in TPS Guddu, which resulted in cascade tripping of the National Grid; while another inquiry was ordered by Board of NTDC, to look into the said breakdown on the part of NTDC.

The NTDC also conducted its own internal probe. From all the inquiry reports, “facts” established that the incident at Guddu Power Complex was the triggering point and cause of total power system collapse. This collapse was primarily due to violation of the SOPs related to maintenance and operation procedure.

The technical staff who conducted that operation did so without following SOPs at the site which had been “clearly identified” in the report and the DM and APMO were not present on the site – all have been identified as being responsible. Chief Executive Officer, Central Rower Generation Company Ltd (CPGCL), Guddu, had been directed to take a disciplinary action against the persons found responsible and intimate the outcome of the action to Power Division within 20 days.

Power Division further stated that the inquiry report established mismanagement on the part of management of CPGCL, Guddu. Accordingly, it was proposed that the BoD may relieve Harnmad Amer Hashmi, Chief Executive Officer, CPGCL, Guddu of his duties with immediate effect (by termination of his contract) and the Board of Directors of CPGCL may be mandated to make the settlement as per the provisions of service agreement related to premature termination.

On the transmission side, the reasons for the resultant cascade failure of the transmission network proposed had also been probed. The findings established that the NTDC's protection scheme was partially and poorly implemented, was inadequate and most of it was non-operational.

The Power Division apprised that the inquiry Committees recommended the short, medium and long-term measures to avoid complete breakdown to save the country from a massive loss in future. In this regard, the Chairman Board NTDC was requested to formulate a Committee of the Board to oversee the implementation of the recommendations of the previous inquiry committee reports as well as report of the current committee in a comprehensive manner.

The Power Division submitted the proposal which suggested that Hammad Amer Hashmi, Chief Executive Officer, Guddu may be relieved of his duties as Chief Executive Officer with immediate effect (by termination of his contract) and the Board of Directors of CPGCL may be mandated to make the settlement as per the provisions of service agreement related to premature termination (Service Agreement) on recommendations of the inquiry committees on countrywide power breakdown that occurred on January 9, 2021 for information and approval of CCoE. During the ensuing discussion, the CCoE held threadbare discussions on the issue. Power Division presented in detail the technical aspects of the breakdown and recommended corrective measures for the future.

However, the Minister for Finance & Revenue, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, expressed his concern over the incident, which involved not only financial implications but it also hurt government’s image. Therefore, there was a dire need to take concrete measures/steps to avert such occurrence in future. The Chairman, CCoE emphasized that measures suggested were generic in nature and argued that the report did not evaluate the factors as to whether implementation of necessary safeguard measures, as suggested by Nepra, were taken, especially when a similar incident occurred in 2018.

The committee approved the report but also noted that the inquiry report was inadequate as it did not cover all aspects of the country-wide power breakdown. The Committee, therefore, decided that: (i) the Power Division shall identify mitigation measures put in place in the light of recommendations of the inquiries carried out following a similar event in 2018; (ii) Power Division shall also identify persons responsible for failing to implement the recommendations; and (iii) Power Division shall also identify specific time-bound actions to avoid recurrence of such breakdowns in the future.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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