Muzaffarabad reels under severe electricity shortage

Greater Kashmir

Muzaffarabad, Jan 3: Frequent power outages are hard hitting the people in the earthquake affected capital of Pakistan administered Kashmir and its adjoining areas where liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinders have already become an extinct commodity.
Sensing the peoples’ angry mood, officials of the PaK Electricity Department however clarified to them on Wednesday that their organisation had nothing to do with the “unscheduled load-shedding” and it was being done by the Wapda from Islamabad.
Speaking at a news conference, Sardar Muhammad Ilyas Khan, superintending engineer, pointed out that power crises already prevailed in the country since Dec 12 after the power production was reduced by 3000 megawatts due to shortage of water in rivers and dams. But the problem aggravated after the suspension of transportation of furnace oil due to law and order situation in the country, thus reducing the production by another 1000 megawatts, he added.
Giving an example, he said the electricity generation capacity of Tarbela and Mangla power plants had plummeted to mere 280 and 150 megawatts from 3600 to 1000 megawatts, respectively.
The severity of the problem could also be gauged from the fact that production in the 30.4 megawatt Jagran hydropower project in northeast of Muzaffarabad had also come down to only 4 megawatts, he said.
He said since PaK was totally dependent upon Wapda to meet its electricity needs, standing at 350-400 MW, it was equally affected by the worst ever power crisis.
He admitted that forced and unscheduled power outages were causing great deal of inconvenience to the people particularly in the harsh winter but asked the people to apprehend the ground realities and cooperate with the department. 
The consumers should minimise the use of power particularly during the peak hours so that tripping of feeders can be averted in the interest of the consumers, he said, asking the media to educate people about the technical aspects of the problem which could aggravate if the face of continued dry spell.
In reply to a question, Khan told that after the Oct 2005 earthquake, the electricity metres in nearly 47000 out of 84,000 households in three quake affected districts had been broken or damaged and could not be replaced so far, which was also a major cause of excessive and unchecked use of electricity.
Meanwhile, as if the power outages were not enough to haunt the residents, shortage of LPG cylinders of different companies had added to their woes.
An LPG cylinder dealer told this correspondent that the supply of fresh cylinders had been halted by the law and order situation in Pakistan and he could not say when he would receive the next stock.
According to him, the price of a 13 kg cylinder earlier being sold at Rs 720 had also swelled to Rs 850.
“Even if you get it at Rs 900 in the present circumstances, you are lucky,” said the dealer.