Are Balochistanis power thieves?

Published on – December 11, 2017 – 7:00 am

QUETTA: The Minister for Power, Sardar Awais Leghari, has claimed that there is no load shedding in the country. He proved wrong and his claims contested by the people by citing massive load shedding in this Province.

QUETTA: The Minister for Power, Sardar Awais Leghari, has claimed that there is no load shedding in the country. He proved wrong and his claims contested by the people by citing massive load shedding in this Province.

Till the recent past, there was five hours load shedding in some parts of Quetta particularly in the feeder in which our newspaper offices are located. For past one week or with the official announcement of ending the load shedding, the QESCO had increased an hour to load shedding and now there is six hours a day. It is an additional gift for the people of Balochistan for ending load shedding in rest parts of Pakistan.

Some officials claimed that there are massive line losses and power theft forcing the QESCO to continue or increase the duration of load shedding in Balochistan.

It is on official record that the QESCO officials conceded that over 90 per cent consumers in this provincial Capital are paying their electricity bills and on time. Only couple of individuals may not be able to pay their bills on time for one or another reason. The remaining defaulters are the Government Departments, agencies and institutions and not the common citizens.

The fault is on the side of the Government and its institutions/departments and the QESCO and not on the general power consumers the company is punishing the common and innocent consumers for their no crime any way.

There is a simple solution to this problem that the QESCO should cut off electricity to all the defaulters and those who failed to pay the electricity bills on time. There is no justification for load shedding and punishing all the consumers regularly paying electricity bills and on time.

In case of power theft cases, no one had ever stopped the QESCO officials not to take legal action against the power thieves. The power thieves should not be spared and they should be arrested, jailed or fined heavily for stealing power from the power transmission lines.

It is incompetency on the part of the QESCO for not taking action against the power thieves and again finding solution to load shedding. Even the Provincial Government had made available police force and Balochistan Levies personnel for restoring the writ of the Government and arrest those involve stealing power directly from the transmission line. No one had stopped the QESCO officials from taking legal action using the force of the State of Pakistan against the culprits.

Yet another reason often repeated and claimed by the QESCO officials/engineers arguing the line losses are responsible for load shedding. Making transmission lines efficient and reliable is the job of the QESCO engineers and not the consumers. If the engineers or the entire power distributing company is inefficient and unable to check power leakages and plug the line losses, then they have no right to run and operate the power distributing company for being incompetent.

There is no justification to punish the power consumers and resort to massive load shedding to cover up the line losses. It is an unpardonable crime against the humanity being committed by the QESCO and its engineers. The superior judiciary should take a notice to undermining the inalienable rights of the people by QESCO.

Load shedding means bringing the entire provincial economy to a grinding halt and at once and suspend production and business activities. Millions of working and productive hours of the people in this backward Province of Balochistan are lost by an order from the QESCO bosses.  The trader Prime Minister of Pakistan given compensation of around Rs 180 billion for the production losses to erstwhile Textile Mafia, the political constituents of PML-N.

Economists consider it a negative action against economic development meaning to keep Balochistan backward and poor by denying them power supply for hours.

Balochistan is generating around 2400 MW electricity from its plants in Uch, Hub and Quetta. Balochistan is being provided merely 400 MW or 500 MW while its demands exceed 1600 MW.

Power transmission lines are unable to take a bigger load as the Government had not invested a single penny to improve the transmission line for more than half a century. The transmission lines are reduced to junk and it is also confined to a small area of the Province. A big landmass is denied power transmission line for the past 70 long years, to say the least.

The Government had been found in no mood to build power transmission line covering the entire province. Whole of Mekran, Kharan, Chagai making half of  Balochistan are not linked with the national power grid system. In addition to it, major parts of Marri-Bugti tribal territories, parts of Kachhi, Naseerabad, Sibi, Jhalawan, Sarawan and Lasbela had no power supply facility from the national grid system. Power is supplied to human settlements close to the Highways only, remote areas are denied electricity.

Years ago, the former Chief Minister, Dr Abdul Malik Baloch, paid the entire cost in advance to QESCO of building the power transmission line to Nokkundi. To this date the company is unable to building the Nokkundi Power transmission line. Nokkundi is the biggest centre for mineral resources where both the big copper and gold mines of Saindak and Reko Dik are located.

It is denied electricity and still the Government is befooling the masses that it will exploit the mineral wealth for prosperity of the people of Pakistan. The Government is developing Balochistan without electricity! It is interesting.

On the other hand, the Government and the QESCO are fleecing the people of Balochistan by imposing a number of taxes and power surcharge including the Neelum-Jhelum Power Project surcharge which is totally unfair and unjust. More than 25 per cent of electricity bills concerns the Federal Government taxes, a fee for Pakistan Television Corporation and hundreds of rupees Neelum-Jhelum power surcharge.

Balochistan is surplus in power generation and using 500 MW for domestic and commercial uses while it is producing 2400 MW. Another coal fired power plant is under construction by the Chinese in collaboration with the HUBCO. An investment of two billion US dollar is being made by the consortium of Chinese and the Hubco generating more than 1350 MW power from its two Hubco plants.

On the contrary, Balochistan is getting around 500 MW though its requirement is around 1600 MW or more at the present lowest level of economic activities. Balochistan is enjoying the lowest level of economic activities and its demands are not met to this date with the clear intention to keep Balochistan backward and poor in decades to come.

The Government plans yet another coal fired power plant in Gwadar. The Chinese are supposed to build the coal fired power plant producing around 300 MW meeting the future demands of the port and the port city of Gwadar and its surroundings.

The Punjab Government had laid the foundation of LPG fuelled power plant near Jhang producing more than 1350 MW. Independent economist suggested that the Gwadar power plant should be gas fired and gas is available at 40 kilometer distance at Gabd making the availability of gas easier instead of importing coal from South Africa as the Chinese investors proposed to maximize their profit.

Similarly, the Hubco coal fire power plants should be converted into gas fired plant using Sui Gas or natural gas available in Sindh instead of import coal from South Africa.

Political parties, leaders of public opinion, members of the Assemblies and Senate of Pakistan should take QESCO to task by mobilizing and condemning the concerned officials/engineers responsible for unending and discriminatory load shedding. The Civil Society should also take up the issue and seek a permanent end to prolonged load shedding in Balochistan and the province is surplus in generating electricity. Less than 25 per cent of electricity produced in Balochistan are being used in the Province and surplus electricity is for the Punjab and  Sindh.