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ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet has ordered preparation of a comprehensive strategy to prevent significant disruptions in the country’s electricity system from happening in the future and to permanently remedy the factors that cause it while providing the people with electricity, water, gas, and other services.

A first-of-its-kind nationwide public awareness campaign has been approved to inculcate the habit of resource-saving and its importance, popularise energy-saving habits, and incorporate global practices into the curriculum. By saving electricity, gas, and water in public, private, domestic and commercial places, there will be a significant reduction in the import bill related to petroleum products, which has doubled in the last seven years.

A change in the national attitude towards energy saving will save billions of rupees in foreign exchange and significantly reduce the public bill by 30 to 40 per cent at the individual level.

The cabinet appreciated the briefing of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, and directed to run the nationwide campaign as soon as possible. On Monday (January 23), the prime minister expressed his deep anger over the power outage in the country and said that the sufferings and trouble faced by the people and the business community are unacceptable. The prime minister strictly instructed that those responsible for causing hardship and trouble to the public and the business community should be identified.

Country hit by major power outage

The prime minister also directed that the factors causing power outages should also be determined and measures should be taken to ensure that such situation do not arise in the future.

The cabinet was informed that a high-level committee constituted by the prime minister had started an inquiry into the power outage. The committee will review all the facts and submit a comprehensive report.

The minister of energy told the cabinet that according to the initial report, this incident occurred at 7:34 in the morning due to a technical fault in the North-South transmission line, a sudden fluctuation in the electric current and a frequency disruption. After that, the power transmission system was shut down under the automatic protection system (Trip).

He said that after the prime minister’s immediate notice and instructions, all resources were used to restore electricity across the country, and electricity was restored in all major cities by 10pm on the same day. All 1112 grid stations in the country have been restored by 5am today (Tuesday), and power supply is being ensured to consumers.

On the special instructions of the prime minister, the gas-fired power plants were immediately commissioned, and electricity production has been started from them to meet the shortfall caused by the power outage.

However, nuclear and coal-fired power plants need one to two more days to restart as per prevailing operating procedures (SOPs); except for these power plants, all other power plants continue to generate uninterrupted power as usual.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb gave a detailed briefing to the Cabinet on the National Awareness and Communication Strategy for Energy Conservation. Under this, a comprehensive and long-term campaign is under way in the country.

Before this campaign, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting conducted a comprehensive survey for the first time in the country’s history, under which opinions were taken about the awareness of energy-saving measures among the people. With the help of the survey results and the trends, a long-term awareness campaign was prepared by the ministry, which will focus on changing people’s habits, lifestyle, thinking and attitudes. In this regard, the help of print, electronic, outdoor, social media and public opinion makers and experts will be taken.

This campaign is being prepared to keep in mind the trends, interests and media consumption of people of every sector, class and age. It will be run with the cooperation of public and private institutions. The basic concept of this campaign is that every citizen of Pakistan will realise that he should save electricity, gas and water, which will benefit him personally and reduce the economic pressure on Pakistan as a whole. It will also help a lot.

The Cabinet appreciated the briefing given by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and gave its approval and directed to launch this nationwide campaign as soon as possible. The prime minister also directed other ministries to fully support the Ministry of Information in this campaign.

The meeting was informed that due to the continuous increase in the import of petroleum products, the import bill is increasing. In 2017, the import bill of petroleum products was 18 percent, which has increased to 29 percent in 2022. Saving energy is very important to save Pakistan from economic stress and save valuable foreign exchange. One solution to bring Pakistan out of economic distress is a change in attitudes.

The prime minister directed that the supervisory governments in the province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and the province of Punjab should also be taken into confidence regarding the energy-saving projects so that with the cooperation of all the provincial governments, various energy-saving measures are strictly implemented across the country.

A comprehensive report based on the recommendations of the inter-ministerial committee formed regarding Toshakhana was presented to the federal cabinet. The committee also presented the draft of the new policy of Toshakhana in the cabinet meeting. The federal cabinet presented its recommendations on the recommendations of the committee and the new Toshakhana policy.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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