No permanent solution to power crisis
April 15, 2011
Pakistan has been facing serious challenges like the deteriorating law and order, galloping price hike and gas and electricity shortages, making people’s life miserable. Power shortfall has reached the dangerous level of 5000 MW, creating a huge difference between the demand and supply. The urban areas are experiencing 8-12 hour load shedding while the rural areas are facing 16 to 18 hours power shortage on a daily basis. Unannounced power load shedding has jammed the wheel of life.
Former federal minister for water and power Raja Pervaiz Ashraf’s had time and again announced deadlines to end load shedding but his announcements carried no weight. Fed up with his deadlines, at one point Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani advised him not to give deadlines, as according to him “there are no deadlines in politics”. Raja Ashraf lost his portfolio in the cabinet reshuffle but the load shedding is still continuing.
The small power projects started by the government could not overcome the ongoing energy crisis because these projects could only generate 100 to 300 megawatt power. The ongoing energy crisis could only be solved by launching Diamer-Bhasha Dam, Kala Bagh Dam and Skardu Dam. As for Kala Bagh Dam, it is hanging fire due to the politics of Sindh and ANP’s opposition. If Kala Bagh Dam had been launched on time, the ongoing power crisis would not have emerged. Unfortunately, in our country several important projects are in the doldrums due to political and regional interests.
Diamer-Bhasha Dam is the second biggest dam after Kala Bagh Dam. The government had announced its construction in 2009 but the project is yet to be implemented. On the other hand, India is making more dams in violation of the Indus River treaty. It has built Baglihar Dam on Chenab River and in future there could be a war between Pakistan and India on the water issue. Construction of dams by India on rivers originating from the Held Kashmir is a well-thought-out plan to make Punjab barren, but the Government of Pakistan has failed to diplomatically handle this issue.
On the other hand, after his China visit President Asif Ali Zardari said that a dam would be constructed in Bongi but according to experts the implementation of the project seems impossible because the area is remote and shifting machinery there is an uphill task. The government of Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa has announced construction of 80 small dams in different parts of the province to overcome its energy crisis.
Sources told Pulse that these dams would be accomplished with the cooperation of Irrigation Department. Each dam would generate electricity at five places, which would cater to the regional power need. The worst power crisis is impacting on the industry rendering thousands of people jobless.
The masses are strongly reacting against hike in power rates and prolonged load shedding. The federation accepted an old demand of Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa under which it would release an amount of Rs 110 billion to the Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa while a sum of Rs 35 billion has been granted to the KP. According to the government, the money would be spent on reconstruction of war-hit areas. Sui gas shortage is another emerging crisis which is badly affecting the industry. On the other hand, the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited [SNGPL] has decided to keep the CNG stations closed till 6 am.
Inflation rate is likely to increase further due to the soaring rates of LPG, electricity and Sui gas. The government is increasing the rates of eatables, making public life difficult. There are over one million CNG-fired vehicles in the country. The government is introducing a plan to equate the CNG and petrol prices which would encourage the use of petrol.
Meantime, people are fed up with the unremitting gas load shedding due to which they are using LPG. The price of a 14 kg cylinder of LPG has shot up to Rs 1600 registering an increase of Rs 200. In the urban areas, it is selling for 150 per kg and in rural areas it is being sold at Rs160 per kilogram. In mountainous areas wood is the only fuel being used for lighting and other purposes.
Pakistan is in the grip of a serious energy crisis that is affecting all walks of life. There are hardly any immediate solutions to resolve this issue. A change in attitude and life style is needed at the national level which should be set by the ruling elite and followed by all segments of the society. At best there could be some short and long-term solutions to the crisis but they need immediate planning and execution with an enormous investment. It is high time that government took steps to cope with the energy crisis and hunt for new resources so as to rid the nation of this menace.