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ISLAMABAD: Power Division on Monday cited the dearth of financial resources as a major hindrance to power system improvement.

This was stated by Secretary Power, Ali Raza Bhutta during a briefing to the National Assembly Standing Committee on Power, presided over by MNA Lal Chand in the absence of Committee Chairman Chaudhry Sali Hussain, who was in a meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan.

During a discussion on the power sector issues, MNA Riaz Hussain Pirzada said a “simple answer” is that financial issues of the country cannot be run “without seeking alms”.

His words were endorsed by the Secretary Power, who gave a briefing on the power sector issues, as Members of the Committee expressed their discontent at the long hours of load shedding in their constituencies.

"Pirzada sahib has almost preempted my answer. The real issue is scarcity of resources. Our kitty is unfortunately too small. System of governance is not ideal. If I generate electricity of Rs 100, I cannot recover the entire amount," Secretary Power Division said, adding that if he recovers Rs 70 out of 100, Rs 30 goes into circular debt and he cannot pay the entire amount to the power generators. He said four or five Discos are facing system constraints due to less investment in the system due to the fact that their recovery is less than the target.

He said a plan is being prepared for Hesco, Pesco and Mepco, which will inject improvement into their power distribution systems.

The Secretary Power Division argued that the government has to strike a balance in the power system as in summer demand touches 25000 MW whereas in winter 10,000 MW is enough. He said capacity payment of six months is being made to IPPs in the whole year.

Replying to a question regarding losses, he said revenue-based load shedding is continuing in Discos, adding that feeders of 20 per cent losses are exempt from forced load shedding whereas 16-hour load shedding is being carried out in areas where losses are 60 to 80 per cent.

MNA Zahid Khan Durrani said that Discos do not implement the announced load shedding plan. He said some areas are facing load shedding of 20 hours and suggested that the government should take strict action against electricity thieves so that he does not face embarrassment in parliament.

MNA Sher Akbar Khan said that forced load shedding is “unleashed” in different districts of KPK. He said even in areas where recovery is 100 per cent, “electricity is being switched off after every five minutes”.

Minister for Energy, Hammad Azhar, who was seen smiling at the statement of Sher Akbar Khan assured him that if there is no theft on feeders in his constituency there will be no load shedding.

The Minister and Secretary agreed to hire local people up to BS 16 so that they should perform in their areas.

The Committee deferred all the Bills due to absence of Chairman of the Committee agreeing to discuss them in the next meeting.

Secretary Power Division acknowledged that there are problems with Hesco, Sepco, Mepco and Pesco, adding that recovery from these Discos is not at par with electricity supply.

Briefing the Committee, Minister for Energy, said that load-shedding at the end of June and early July was due to dry docking of LNG terminal, “which took a few days”. He said alternate arrangements were made to bridge the shortfall.

The Minister further noted that during dry docking hydel generation was also reduced by 80 per cent, adding that generation from Tarbela is still 50 per cent less than the country its capacity due to less water inflows.

Minister said that country’s transmission system is so obsolete that it cannot transmit over 24,000 MW of electricity.

He said overheated transformers and other faults are being identified which will be removed by next June.

In reply to a question, he said the “most expensive” work is being done at a grid station in Swabi and then Haripur and only one other grid is being installed elsewhere in the country.

The Chief Executive Mepco, told the meeting that the company is facing issues in installation of agri-tubewells.

MNA Riaz Pirzada appreciated the performance of Mepco in its drive against power theft but underscored the need for installation of agri meters.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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