THE country is in the grip of power outages and the government is finding it difficult to cope with the situation and to fulfill its promise of minimizing the power cuts and not to resort to load shedding during Sehr and Iftar in the month of Ramadan. As a consequence the people are protesting on the streets and the opposition parties in the parliament, in a show of solidarity with the masses, have also come together to grill the government over the issue, though not on the basis of a true and honest appraisal of the situation. The government claims that the situation has cropped up due to sudden rise in the demand for electricity which is touching the 21000 MW mark as against the current production capacity of 16000 MW.
Honestly speaking and I have no doubt in my mind that the protesting politicians are well aware of the fact that the current government is not responsible for the energy crisis. So blaming the government in complete denial of the realities smacks of politicking rather than real concern for the sufferings of the masses. The country is suffering from power crisis due to the fact that the previous governments including the military regime of Musharraf showed criminal negligence in regards to production of electricity and not a single power producing units was installed during the last fifteen years, notwithstanding the fact that the energy needs of the country were increasing by 8% annually. According to IAEA report the power demand in Pakistan would reach 490000 MW by 2025.
In the backdrop of the foregoing stark realities, the efforts made by the present government to tackle the energy crisis are really commendable. It has initiated a number of power projects, including 10640 MW projects under China-Pakistan Corridor which will become functional by 2017-18. Work on Solar and nuclear plants have also been started while one solar project has already been commissioned at Bahawalpur with a power producing capacity of 1000 MW. A number of other projects are also in the pipeline. All these projects when completed will surely not only end the present power crisis but also provide firm foundation for production of electricity to meet our future needs.
One very pertinent point which is neglected by the critics of the government and even the public is that one of the major causes of the power shortages is also the theft of electricity; a phenomenon which accounts for nearly 25% of the total production of electricity in the country. Now who are the power stealers? Obviously not the government but the consumers which include households and industrial units. In addition to this there are certain areas in the country where people do not pay electricity bills and steal electricity with impunity. No doubt this is all done with the complicity of the government functionaries. This indicates the extent of corruption permeating in the society. It is not only confined to government functionaries and the politician.
All the segments of the society in one way or the other are contributing their share in this detestable and debilitating curse. Can one get unadulterated milk from the market? Can one be sure that the medicine that one is buying is the real stuff? Can one say that hoarding is done by the government? Can one say that the prices of the daily use are manipulated by the government? Are the people paying their taxes honestly? The answers to all these questions are surely, No. This is the Holy month of Ramadan and unfortunately the unscrupulous elements within the business community instead of providing relief to the people try to maximize their profits by spiking the prices of the commodities they deal in through illegal practices. And yet the government is blamed for all the ills.
True the government has a responsibility to provide good governance and promote well being of the people but that is possible only when the people also perform their duties towards the state and society. We are a country of 180 million people and only 3.5 million pay their income tax. How can one expect a country with such a rampant corruption to make progress? We, the people, the politicians and rulers are collectively responsible for all our current woes and perhaps it was the time for an honest introspections of our social behaviours and take corrective actions without any further loss of time, failing which we would continue to suffer an unmitigated agony as a nation.
People can make their contribution to tackling the energy crisis by giving up stealing electricity and paying their bills so that the government is able to pay the power producing companies in time to avoid ever recurring circular debt. People also need to show patience and understand that the government does not have a magic wand to fix the problem. The ground realities are that the power conundrum cannot be resolved before the end of 2018
Managing Power Crisis | Malik M Ashraf