SC irked by lack of adequate investment in power transmission lines

The Supreme Court noted that no substantial investment has been made for the improvement of transmission lines and alternative power generation plants.

A three-judge bench, headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial, on Tuesday, heard a review petition of the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA).

Justice Bandial said there was a need to support the economic activities and that export-oriented units should receive power at subsidised rates, so they could compete in the international market. The bench was informed that pursuant to direction in a judgment passed on 25 September 2019 the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) undertook consultation process with the stakeholder i.e., with the Ministry of Energy and the distribution companies to formulate the policy in order to remove the differentiation of sector i.e., rural, urban, industry, commercial, and residential/domestic.

The Additional Attorney General said that having received the recommendations, the federal government has started consultation with the provinces in order to resolve the local issues.

Justice Bandial said there should be no discrimination among the consumers, adding when the load-shedding was on its peak, the rural areas faced the brunt as there was no light in the villages for 18 to 20 hours.

He, however, said the economic activity in the country should also not be ignored.

Justice Bandial further said there are also hospitals and schools in the rural areas where 60 percent population lives.

“We need to look into the problems of those areas as the people in the rural areas also have the right to live a comfortable life, and for tube-wells electricity is required,” he added.

He regretted that in the past there was no rational planning with regard to the power producers.

“Today we have over-production; therefore, many captive power plants were asked to shut down their units.” Still we don’t have a system where the power producers have the best rates for the distribution companies. The electricity has become unaffordable, he added.

Justice Bandial said power plants in the country have been installed by the foreign investors, who have no concern of the local requirements, adding there is a need for local investment.

Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel said the matter is so complicated that it has increased the electricity cost.

The presiding judge noted that the electricity problems are greater in Balochistan and KP; therefore, the the provinces should be heard.

Advocate General Shumail Butt said that many feeders in the heart of the cities were declared in the rural areas; therefore, there was 18 hours load shedding in those areas.

Advocate General Balochistan said that his province is declared 90 percent rural, adding Makran Division is getting electricity from Iran as it could not be linked with the national grid.

“We have a long coastal area, where the wind energy turbine could be installed for supply of electricity to Makran Division,” he submitted.

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