No letup in load shedding in industrial areas, many industries near to shut down
December 02, 2011
Despite many claims to end load shedding in industrial areas by government from Monday, there is no letup in electricity load shedding in industrial areas of economical hub of the country.
A series of protests and demonstrations were held by business community against prolonged 12 hours load shedding in industrial areas, but all seems going waste as industries continuously suffering prolonged load shedding and many are about to shut down because of non-availability of electricity.
MianAbrar Ahmed President Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, MianZahid, a former chairman of Korangi Association of Trade and Industry (KATI), Muhammad IrfanMotton, Chairman of Site Association of Trade and Industry and others had expressed deep concern over persistent load shedding in industrial areas which now prolonged to 12 hours from 8 hours.
Other leading businessmen and industrialists representing more than 17,000 industrial units of the city staged protest demonstration against 12-hour electricity loadshedding and demanded written assurances for an uninterrupted power supply. Otherwise, industries would have to be closed down and this could lead to a massive lay-off, they warned. Wearing black armbands, they highlighted the problems being faced by businessmen and industrialists owing to massive loadshedding, in a news conference at the Karachi Press Club after staging a sit-in outside.
Businessmen accused the KESC management of resorting to loadshedding to “blackmail the government for obtaining subsidised furnace oil and avoiding power generation by itself”. They maintained that businessmen were not responsible for settling KESC`s circular debt issue with other concerns.
SirajKassamTeli said that if an uninterrupted power supply was not ensured within the next three days industrialists would stop paying their power bills and rather deposit the same in their respective associations. He argued that when more than 98 per cent recovery from industries had been acknowledged by the KESC then why it was not providing an uninterrupted supply.
Apprehending that KESC owners might suddenly disappear after failing to fulfil their contractual obligations, MrTeli also demanded an internal forensic audit of the KESC operations. He said business leaders were in fact voicing concern of the people of Karachi who contributed 68 per cent of the tax. He said the loadshedding schedule was uncalled-for and would end up in a complete closure of industries in the city.
He warned the government that KESC attitude appeared to be a deliberate attempt to undermine Karachi`s industry, and warned that if it was forced to stop working, this would bring the whole of the country to a grinding halt.
“Disturbing Karachi means disturbing the entire country; and if we do not get power supply, we will close down our factories and hand over keys to the government,” he announced. Urging President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister YousufRazaGilani to intervene in the matter to avoid industries closure and street protests by workers, he said the situation was heading to a serious law and order situation. He said the onus of such a situation would be on the KESC and the government.
Teli said that despite getting fuel at subsidised rates and 700 megawatts from Wapda and effecting tariff hikes frequently, the KESC was not using its own resources to enhance power generation. Government ministers, he observed, were also not taking the matter seriously. He made mention of businessmen`s meetings with Federal Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources DrAsim and Finance Minister HafeezShaikh for settling the dues against the gas load management plan (GLMP) transactions.
In reply to a question, he said that the business community was capable of shouldering the responsibility of the required power generation and supply by segregating the generation and distribution systems.
When asked why industrialists were not moving the court, he said they were already there on the issue of gas because they sincerely believed that the first right to the gas found in Sindh was that of the province. He said Sindh produced 70 per cent of the total gas found in the country.
They severely criticized KESC and it mismanagement that have catastrophic loss to industry economy and employment. They said if such attitude continued soon industry will be closed down and huge unemployment would be witnessed.
They further said if government remained silent spectator and did not intervene situation would be worsened and will lead to volcanic shocks and tremors to industry and trade .In such a highly global competitive atmosphere where economic price gives you competitive edge but rising cost in situation like this will make Pakistani products uncompetitive in the international markets.
They sought government intervention into the matter and resolve the circular debt issue that uninterrupted supply of electricity could be made possible to industry to enable it to continuously play its role in trade particularly export enhancement.
However, later after these demonstrations Federal Minister for Petroleum DrAsim Husain assured business community to end up load-shedding in industrial areas from Monday. The businessmen were hoping to that the government of Sindh will eliminate load-shedding from industrial areas as the Petroleum Minister confirmed that KESC would exempt industry from long hours load-shedding. But despite his claim to end load shedding there was no let up in load shedding.