Let there be light… Please?


A grim and desperate mood has gripped the dengue- and flood-hit country as a new energy crisis has emerged in recent days, intensifying to such an extent on Sunday that people in various cities across the country came out on the streets to protest against the prolonged and unscheduled bouts of load shedding, clashing with police and damaging public property.
In Lahore, which bore 12 hours of outages throughout the day, people protested in Chung, Gari Shahu, Lakshami, Azadi Chowk, Iqbal Town, Township, Wahdat Road and other areas of the city, and also blocked the Lahore Ring Road. They clashed with riot police, which eventually managed to control the protests in many areas through use of force. Protests also turned violent in many areas, where protesters opened fire on police and set a police van and senior police officers’ cars on fire.
Police arrested some 200 protesters as a result after registering cases against 2,000 on charges of damaging government property, setting fire to police vehicles and attacking police officers. The cases were registered under Sections 436, 427, 148, 149, 506 and 156 of the Pakistan Penal Code. Infuriated people also stormed various wards of Jinnah Hospital because of prolonged power outages. Patients and their attendants said they could not get test reports and it had become hard for them to cope with the long outages.
People in Faisalabad also protested against the government’s failure to provide electricity, which has resulted in 18 hours of load shedding in most areas of the province. The power shortfall has reportedly reached 7,000 megawatts as production from hydel generation declined, with Tarbela and Mangla dams dropping production to around 950MW.
Reportedly, Pakistan State Oil has suspended oil supplies to the government and private power companies because of non-payment of bills. Power outages have caused water shortage in several areas. Potable water ran short in Gujar Khan for the fifth consecutive day because of the incessant power outages. Business activities have been severely affected in Gujranwala and Sargodha, where urban areas are facing 16 hours of outages while rural areas are facing 18 hours of load shedding, and residents aired their frustration by burning tyres on GT Road.
Load shedding of 10 to 12 hours was also reported in Multan, Dera Ghazi Khan, Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan and Liaqatpur. Residents of Chichawatni also besieged a grid station, but to no avail.
The situation is similar in Sindh, where in up to 10 hours of load shedding was reported in Hyderabad and surrounding areas. Nawabshah, Larkana, Ghotki and other areas of interior Sindh are without power for 12 to 16 hours every day. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is also suffering at the hands of load shedding, with Swat, Shangal, Upper Dir and Lower Dir remaining without electricity for up to 18 hours. There is also no respite for residents of Balochistan where loadshedding has also taken its toll and disrupted daily life. At least 16 hours of loadshedding is taking place in several parts of the province. In Sialkot, a major hub of the export industry, traders observed complete shutter down strike on the appeal of Markazi Anjuman-e-Tajran Sialkot in protest against the 20 hours daily power outages.


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