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ISLAMABAD: A National Assembly panel on Tuesday grilled the officials of Peshawar Electric Supply Company (Pesco) for unscheduled electricity load shedding, inflated bills and questionable recruitment process in the company.

Presided over by Malik Anwar Taj, the panel discussed issues being faced by the consumers in different areas of Pesco.

The officials of Power Division gave briefing on priority projects in Swat and Malakand Divisions. It was noted that Swat-two project of 132KV is under progress, whereas Dargai-two is near completion.

The meeting was further informed that there are issues in getting a No Objection Certificate (NOC) for land to upgrade 86KV power plant to 132KV. The project has already been included in 7th STGs and work is in progress on grid station.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Pesco Abdul Jabbar Khan assured the panel that the NOC will soon be issued to Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda).

The panel was also informed of upgradation of 132KV project at Talash (Lower Dir) at a cost of Rs 523.56 million whereas a similar project at a cost of Rs 465.11 million is also in progress in Malakand.

Pesco officials in response to a query said that they want grants for the projects, not borrowed funds.

The panel was informed that 15-hour load shedding is being carried out in those areas where losses are ranging from 60 to 80 per cent.

Member National Assembly, Junaid Akbar said that in those areas where losses are 80 per cent, load shedding duration is 16 hours.

During the meeting, it was revealed that a proposal is also under consideration to move a resolution in the National Assembly to sort out overdue receivables, as Prime Minister had directed to get such a proposal from the National Assembly.

Convener of the meeting apprised that Prime Minister had announced an amount of Rs 10 billion for uplift projects but Finance Minister floated a proposal that a separate meeting will be held on this issue.

The panel directed the concerned officials to share details of Prime Minister’s Rs 10 billion package for upgradation of power system.

Malik Anwar Taj argued that the consumers who are using electricity without completing any legal formalities should be asked to get meters. This mechanism will help recover outstanding dues.

He maintained that there was no electricity for even five minutes during election days in his constituency.

Superintendent Engineer (SE) Operation, Khalid Khan informed the panel that the power company is facing staff shortages in Rashakai and Shabqadar.

MNA Junaid Akbar said that fresh recruitment is negligible in those areas that are facing electricity shortfalls.

Members of the panel grilled the officials of Pesco, saying that the company officials receive inducement to fix hooks (Kundas) but people hurl abuses at Members of Assembly.

Members enquired under which law electricity is shut down in those areas where 10-20 per cent consumers pay their bills. They also accused Pesco officials of laying ABC cable in those areas where losses are comparatively less.

Defence Minister, Pervez Khattak who also reached the meeting asked Pesco officials how many hooks or cases of electricity theft have been caught, adding that Pesco staff reach those areas from where they receive complaints but no action is taken against those who facilitate ‘thieves’.

“Second phase of Local Governments elections is due; the party has to go to the masses, I need an answer to each question in writing,” he added.

Defence Minister said that no one should think that he cannot be removed, adding each lineman of Pesco is a millionaire.

“I faced accountability process for five years for a wrong advertisement about Malam Jabba,” said the furious Minister.

He directed Pesco officials to immediately stop recruitment process of Assistant Lineman as MNA Junaid Akbar questioned about the advertisement for that recruitment.

“We will not allow recruitment on the basis of wrong advertisements,” Defence Minister said adding that if the power company does not stop recruitment process he would approach the court.

Khattak also raised questions on recovery of Rs 127 billion from Pesco consumers under the garb of FCA.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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