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Countrywide loadshedding for Pakistan to increase from today

Publication Date : 24-12-2013


The government announced on Monday revival of electricity loadshedding for ‘about two hours’ per day throughout the country because of an increased gap between power generation and demand arising out of annual canal closure and diversion of gas to textile industry.

“The Indus River System Authority has reduced indents for annual canal closure due to which loadshedding of about two hours will start on Tuesday,” a statement issued by the ministry of water and power said. “Inconvenience to be caused to the people due to loadshedding is regretted,” it added.

An official, however, told Dawn that loadshedding could go up to four hours on an average, but it would be kept at two hours in big cities and maximum loadshedding would be done in the rural sector and areas with lower recovery of bills. As a result, some consumers may complain of more than 10 hours of loadshedding.

He said the government was engaging with Irsa to persuade it to make higher water discharges from Tarbela dam to enable Wapda reduce electricity supply gap. At the same time, consumers have been advised to adopt energy conservation measures to minimise electricity shortage.

But Irsa had not accepted the water and power ministry’s demand because of the absence of its chairman, an official said. He said Irsa had been asked to ensure at least 15,000 to 20,000 cubic feet per second (cusecs) of water releases from Tarbela dam against usual discharges of about 8,000 cusecs for drinking purposes during annual canal closure. Discharges from Tarbela dam stood at 35,000 cusecs on Monday.

The official said the Irsa chief would be back in town on December 26 and preside over a meeting to consider the government’s demand. He said the government had not asked for higher discharges from Mangla dam because Punjab had availed higher discharges from them and further depletion of storage could create operational difficulties.

An Irsa official said members of the authority appeared to be inclined to accept the government demand for higher water releases for more power generation, but for genuinely different reasons. He said the industrial sector was mostly releasing its waste into the river system and causing higher contamination. “Even though the drinking water was properly treated before use, there should be higher flows in rivers to enable filtration and treatment.”

A power ministry official said the electricity shortage had been caused not only because of canal closure but a sudden drop in temperatures beyond freezing point in many parts of the country. On top of that, the diversion of 100 million cubic feet of natural gas per day from the power sector to textile sector had generated an additional shortfall of about 450MW.

The official said Sindh would close down Kotri canal on December 26, followed by Sukkur on January 6 while canals in Punjab would remain closed for annual maintenance between December 25 and January 31. As a result, the hydropower generation would fall drastically to 1,000MW for about 35 days.

Coupled with the canal closure, the production from Wapda’s thermal stations will remain static at 1,500-2,000MW because of the ongoing rehabilitation programme.

Maximum reliance will, therefore, shift to IPPs. As a result, the cost of electricity will go up in view of more reliance on furnace oil and diesel for power generation.



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