Protests gain momentum as shortfall hits 6,500MW

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The Pakistan Electric Power Company has once again increased load shedding for domestic and commercial consumers in order to facilitate the textile sector, sources told Pakistan Today on Thursday, as protests were held in several cities against prolonged outages.
Power production from independent power producers (IPPs) has also dropped sharply in the last two days, thus raising load shedding hours to 12-16 hours a day. The power shortfall has reportedly touched 6,500MW again, and insiders said PEPCO had no option but to increase outages for domestic users. President Asif Ali Zardari had instructed PEPCO to exempt textile sector from load shedding, but the company does not have enough power and has resorted to increased load shedding for domestic users.
“We do not have enough power production and there is no other option but to increase outages for domestic and commercial users,” said a senior official of PEPCO, adding that in recent days, the power production from IPPs had also decreased sharply. Consumers were facing between six and eight hours of load shedding around three days ago, but the duration has now crossed 12 hours a day. Reports from rural areas falling in the jurisdiction of IESCO said on most days, power remained cut for six continuous hours, creating extreme difficulties for the people. Water and Power Ministry sources said the Finance Ministry was not cooperating and due to a lack of funds, oil and gas shortage for power plants was causing a decrease in power generation. The officials said the gap between power generation and consumption could not be bridged when PEPCO was being provided 13,000 tonnes of oil instead of the required 40,000 tonnes a day.
Meanwhile, a number of protests were held in several cities including Lahore, Faisalabad, Daska and Toba Tek Singh against long hours of load shedding. In Lahore, the protesters marched up to WAPDA House and demanded the government reduce load shedding.
In Toba Tek Singh, scores of people including traders and labourers protested against eight to 12-hour-long load shedding in the district. The protesters torched tyres and blocked various roads, including the Jhang Road, Gojra Road, Kamalia-Rajana Road and Shorkot Road and also stopped the Karakoram Express train by blocking the railway track. In Daska, hundreds of sacked factory workers and labourers staged a demonstration in the Factory Area against 20-hour-long daily power outages. They parked tractors and trailers in the middle of the roads and kept the traffic blocked for nearly two hours by burning tyres.