There has been a lot of outcry in the media that the current government and ministry of power have done nothing to overcome electricity shortage. Though, the country faced load shedding for few days in the month of October but it was overcome instantly and since then no load shedding is carried out for the domestic sector while the duration of load shedding for the industrial sector also reduced sharply. I am not saying that everything is going very good in the ministry of power but at least it should be given credit for things it has initiated or completed in the recent years. The power sector was totally ignored in the previous government’s era and even the constant requests for providing funds were not taken seriously. The energy demand with passage of every day increased. Interestingly, the home appliances import was relaxed during 2003-2007 and power demand increased more than 15 per cent every year and putting extra load on power demand. .
However, then-government did not take any serious steps to cope with the emerging energy demands. As soon the current government took charge in 2008, the country was facing huge load shedding and the industrial sector was in deep energy crisis. Looking at the need of the energy, the current democratic government gave importance to energy sector and not only initiated different projects but also improved the transmission and despatch system. The government has taken short-term and long-term measures to overcome energy crisis and added around 3,000MW electricity in the national grid but at the same time the energy demand also increased at the same ratio.
In long-term projects one of the biggest dams in the country’s history i.e. Diamer-Bhasha dam has been initiated and importing electricity from Central Asian countries is underway. In short-term projects, the government adopted energy conservation policy, which remained very useful to overcome power shortage. It was hard efforts of ministry of power that hydel generation in 2010-11 increased as compare to 2009-10. In 2010-11, the hydel generation remained 31.45 billion units whereas in 2009-10, it was 27.61 billion units thus an increase of 3.84 billion units was observed.
Diamer-Bhasha dam was one of the important projects for producing energy, as with its completion the country would get 4,500MW electricity and at the same time the life of Tarbela Dam would increase by 35 years. On the despatch and transmission sector, the National Transmission and Despatch Company (NTDC) is working on different projects and all of them would enhance the current distribution system. The new grid stations would be installed under these projects. The 500KV grid stations were upgraded and new grid stations of 220KV were set up. Similarly, new transmission lines are laid and all these steps would reduce line losses and improve electricity distribution of the country. NTDC has arranged finance from different sources including donor agencies i.e. Asian Development Bank (ADB), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The donor agencies have shown their satisfaction in the projects and it reflects the commitment of the government departments for serving people.
In the ongoing projects NTDC will work on transmission arrangements for power dispersal of Ghazi Brotha; Muzaffargarh-Gatti 500 KV transmission line; upgradation of NPCC Islamabad; 500/220 KV inter connection facility in Karachi; new 500KV grid station at Sahiwal along with 220KV system expansion; new 220 KV grid station at Khuzdar and Dadu; 220KV grid station Ghazi Road, Lahore with 220KV line and extension of 8 new 220KV grid stations of NTDC system.
Pakistan Power Electric Company (PEPCO) initiated energy conservation plan, which also saved around 700MW. Under this plan, people are educated to turn off all extra lights, use energy savers and put the thermostats of their air conditioners on 26 degree. All of these messages to the masses are giving positive results.
These steps have been taken by the government and now as a responsible citizen; we should also come foreword and play our due role. We should not just criticize the government but think that how can we play our role. Housewives can play an important role in this regard. I think if we identify our individual responsibilities then this power crisis could be overcome. The protests and burning government property is not solution. The power crisis is not a local problem rather it is a regional issue. Our neighbouring country India is facing more than 50,000MW of shortfall and long hours of load shedding is seen. India would take not less than 12 years to overcome its power crisis but the situation in Pakistan is different, as we have the capacity to overcome energy crisis in a few years.
The writer is employee of NTDC/PEPCO