Shortage of fuel, technical faults: Power plants’ closure causing 7,140MW shortfall, PM told

Non-availability of required volume of fuel to power houses coupled with technical faults owing to non-maintenance of some power plants are the main reasons for forced outages of 7,140 MWs across the country.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif was informed about these facts during a Power Division briefing here on Thursday on the power generation situation in the country at a high-powered meeting also attended by Miftah Ismail and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and relevant top officials.

The premier took cognisance of the incompetence and bad governance of the last regime in providing on-time fuel to power houses and removing technical faults and asked for action to end loadshedding at the earliest, a top official, who was part of the meeting, told The News. The premier expressed concern over long power outages and directed to rectify technical faults immediately.

He said people are troubled by loadshedding. “For God’s sake, take care of them,” he said, adding that the situation was unbearable. “Out of the non-functional power houses, some plants having 5,741 MW of generation capacity can be made functional with an immediate effect,” the meeting was told.

The prime minister was told that the Power Division could not timely replace kits or tools in power plants for lack of funds, rendering them non-functional, some of them for the last one year. The meeting was also told that nine power plants had been non-functional since December 2021, because of non-payment of their dues, making them unable to purchase fuel required to generate electricity. Among the 18 power plants, Port Qasim, Guddu, Muzaffargarh, KAPCO and Jamshoro, are currently not producing electricity. The meeting was told that as many as nine power houses of 3,535 MW were currently non-functional because of non-availability of fuel.

Of the nine plants, Liberty Power of 210 MW, Rousch of 410 MW, Nandipur of 525 MW, FKPCL 140 MW and nine units of Faisalabad GTPS have not been producing electricity for non-availability of RLNG for the last four months, from Dec 12, 2021. HCPC of 120 MW has also been dysfunctional since Oct 4, 2019, owing to expiry of its gas supply agreement. Two units of Jamshoro Power House of 549 MW and four units of Muzaffargarh of 840 MW have been non-functional since April 8 and 9, 2022, for a lack of furnace oil. The unit-2 of the Sahiwal power plant based on coal has not been producing electricity of 621 MW since April 20, 2022, for lack of imported coal. However, 18 power plants having a capacity of 3,605 MW have been non-functional because of technical faults.

Meanwhile, the Nepra has also swung into action and taken notice of forced loadshedding because of non-availability of fuel and technical faults and summoned top managements of these power plants, seeking details of the failure in purchasing fuel and maintaining the plants. The Nepra also summoned the top NPCC and CPPA functionaries apart from calling the management of the electric power distribution over increasing complaints of loadshedding.

Meantime, a meeting chaired by PM Shehbaz Sharif decided that a reform strategy will be formulated on an emergency basis as the government takes urgent measures to achieve economic stability of the country. The decision was taken in a meeting here on Thursday attended by former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Ahsan Iqbal, Miftah Ismail, Marriyum Aurangzeb, Zubair Umar, Ayesha Ghaus Pasha, Tariq Mahmood Pasha, Bilal Kayani and senior officers concerned. The huddle took stock of the overall economic situation prevailing in the country and the prime minister asked his economic team to take all-out measures for the economic uplift of people.

He called for urgent measures not only to improve the economic situation but also to overcome rising inflation. The Finance Ministry gave a briefing to the prime minister who expressed concerns over the worrisome economic indicators.

Earlier in the morning, Shehbaz visited the under-construction and much-delayed project of the Airport Metro Bus Service and ordered an inquiry into the inordinate delay in the initiation of the project. He reached the spot at 7am. He resented that the project, launched by the PMLN government in 2017 with the stipulated completion time of a year, remained incomplete even after four years.

The construction of the 25.6 km metro track worth Rs16 billion had been started in January 2017. The project is being executed by the National Highways Authority (NHA) and was supposed to be completed in August 2018. However, it faced delays and its civil work was completed last year. The Capital Development Authority (CDA) took over the project in March last year from the National Highways Authority under the direction of the federal government and started the process to procure buses.

During Shehbaz’s visit, NHA and CDA officials briefed him about the project. He directed the CDA to operationalise the bus service from tomorrow (Saturday). He also visited the Peshawar Mor Station and reviewed the progress of the project. The project had been launched by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in 2017 and was due to become functional in early 2018.

Shehbaz directed running the bus service from Peshawar Mor to Islamabad International Airport to facilitate passengers travelling to the airport.

He ordered a feasibility study as per Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules for two additional routes from Rawat and Bhara Kahu, adjacent to Banni Gala, connecting the airport. He directed establishing a metro bus station at the motorway for better connectivity and to enhance the benefit of the service to a maximum number of people. Terming it “severe negligence”, Shehbaz expressed consternation over the delay in the materialisation of the project as Rs16 billion have already been spent on the mega project of public importance. He termed it “unfair” towards the general public whose tax money has been consumed. He directed the officials concerned to make ToRs of an inquiry to assess the reasons for the delay that led to the loss of national wealth.

The prime minister suggested ensuring the installation of racks in the buses to accommodate the luggage of passengers. He directed running a free-of-cost service during Ramazan as it will be a trial period until the installation of ticketing machines. During the visit, PMLN leaders Ahsan Iqbal, Marriyum Aurangzeb, Hanif Abbasi, Tariq Fazal Chaudhry and Anjum Aqeel accompanied the prime minister.

NHA and CDA officials told the prime minister that initially, 30 buses will be run on the 24-kilometre track from Peshawar Mor to Islamabad International Airport, while 15 buses will be taken from the Punjab Mass Transit Authority, Rawalpindi, till the new fleet is added to the metro service. The prime minister was informed that the CDA is temporarily operating on behalf of the government and a separate Metro Bus Authority is required to be formulated. The buses will be covered in orange skin for route coding. The shuttle service will be run at a stretch of 11 kilometres.

Sharing pictures of the prime minister’s visit, Marriyum Aurangzeb, in a tweet, said he has directed running a free-of-cost metro bus service during Ramazan. She said the previous rulers are making the excuse of “foreign conspiracy” to cover up their incompetence and corruption. The corridors and stations of the metro track have already been constructed and now command and control, ticketing, station management, cleanliness and security systems are being completed. Similarly, the Punjab Mass Transit Authority, which is already running the Rawalpindi-Islamabad Metro Bus Service, refused to run the service between Peshawar Mor and the airport and CDA also stated that being a development authority, it has nothing to do with the bus service.

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