ISLAMABAD: March 2022 has been announced by Planning Minister Asad Umar as the final date for the power woes of Karachi to be resolved once and for all.
Speaking to talk show host and political analyst Hamid Mir in Geo News programme "Capital Talk", Umar spoke about the metropolis' sole power supplier, the K-Electric, and why he named politicians of the former governments during a heated debate in the National Assembly earlier today.
The minister's remarks in the NA were made in response to the PPP's call attention notice whereby members of Sindh's ruling party had drawn Energy Minister Omar Ayub's attention to the "unprecedented and unscheduled" load-shedding in Karachi at the hands of the K-Electric as well the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority's (NEPRA) failure to hold the K-Electric accountable.
The minister explained that the reason why he took the names of the PML-N's Khawaja Asif or the PPP's Raja Pervaiz Ashraf was that both had been in relevant ministries during the parties' respective tenures, but were criticising the K-Electric during the debate today.
"Let me tell you why I took their names. They should be asked to respond because the Opposition was strongly criticising K-Electric and claiming that the privitisation of the KE was a major injustice.
"I was just reminding them that the privitisation was not carried out by the PTI but during the PML-Q's tenure. The new owner [of the K-Electric] came in about 10 years ago. Then, there were five years of the PPP and another five years of the PML-N.
"So when all of them were talking about how 'dangerous' the KE situation was, I just mentioned that they should be asked why they themselves did not do anything" to resolve Karachi's load-shedding issues.
Umar said the technical reason why Pakistan's economic hub continuously faced power outages was because the demand was higher than the supply.
"Either there should be enough capacity in the city to fulfill its power needs or we set up a system where additional power generated elsewhere in the country may be supplied to Karachi.
"At the moment, we have neither," he noted. However, he explained that there was another solution, though no one in the prior governments had cared to implement or work towards it.
"While power manufacturing units have been set up across the country overall, no one attempted to ramp up the overall [electricity] distribution in Karachi to allow extra power to be imported from elsewhere in Pakistan if Karachi was facing shortages.
"On an emergency basis, we sat down with the KE and signed an agreement in principal and agreed on timelines. I can give you the technical details as to what changes we plan to bring and, after the implementation, this issue will be resolved forever," the minister said.
In response to Mir's question as to when would Karachi's load-shedding woes be completely resolved, he said there are two different issues. First, he noted, was the severe load-shedding going on right now and the second was power shortage in general, considering the metropolis' demand.
"At the moment, there's severe load-shedding going on and that should be controlled in the next few days — not weeks but days. […] Currently, the demand for electricity is a little more than the supply; therefore, some load-shedding will continue but it will not be like what was seen over the past week.
"The deadline for our project — through which changes would be made in the distribution system to allow power to be imported into Karachi to fulfill its needs of 800-1,000MW power — is March 2022," Umar said.