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30 per cent of Pakistan still in the dark

Publication Date : 26-02-2013

 

Pakistan's country’s power managers managed to restore supplies, albeit partially, by Monday evening with around 30 per cent areas remaining without electricity till late in the evening.

According to sources in the Ministry for Water and Power, the areas where electricity is yet to be restored are in Sindh, Balochistan and interior of Punjab.

Even those areas where power has been officially restored suffered long hours of load-shedding as generation fell further on Monday.

The minister for water and power and spokesman for the ministry did not respond to calls and text messages sent to them seeking their version of the breakdown.

In the evening, the generation stood at 6,700MW against 8,500MW on Sunday evening. The Karachi Electric Supply Company was supplied around 700MW, leaving 6,000MW for the national grid with demand being 13,000MW.

“The power planners had been juggling with these generation figures the whole day on Monday,” says an official of the National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC). The company did not have enough power to supply to areas for restoration of the system.

The NTDC had to take power from already restored areas (leaving them without power) for supply to other grids to count them officially restored.

The NTDC official said electricity was “officially restored” to about 70 per cent of the country by evening, but whether the supply continued or not was a different matter.

“The Sunday tragedy was nothing but total incompetence,” says Munawer Baseer Ahmad, former managing director of the Pakistan Electric Power Company. Pepco had segregated the entire transmission system in 2008 to protect it from any cascading effect -like the one that broke down the entire system.

Each problem arising out of any particular plant could and should have been localised had new additions (transmission lines or grid stations) been synchronised with the already operational system to maintain its internal safety segregation. It appeared not to have happened.

What was making the situation worse was the fact that the system was being run by bureaucrats who were not familiar with technicalities of generation, transmission and distribution, Ahmad said, adding that “it will happen again if fundamental problems are not removed from the system. The government must find out why the segregation of the system was messed up? Who did it? If it was still operational, why it could not save the system?”

“The malaise goes much deeper,” says an official of Pepco. “Recoveries have dropped to 85 per cent, creating a gap of billions of rupees in the system. It results in low fuel supplies, which in turn overstretch working plants. On top of it, there is no planning. Had the government arranged natural gas on Monday, it could have easily added up to 3,000MW to the system and saved it from further problems ... there is neither money nor planning nor professional advice to run the system,” he argued.

Meanwhile, a spokesman of Uch Power denied that failure of his plant had triggered a cascading effect. He said: “We would like to strongly reject the reported news holding Uch power plant responsible for the domino effect, leading to a total blackout in the country.”

 

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