|Cabinet members wary of power crisis|
27 June 2012
ISLAMABAD -Newly-elected Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, while chairing his first cabinet meeting, on Tuesday directed the quarters concerned to ensure that there would be no loadshedding during the ‘Sehri’ and ‘Iftar’ time in the holy month of Ramadan, commencing from next month.The federal cabinet was also informed about some concrete measures taken to control the worsening loadshedding situation.The prime minister said conservation was an important component of the strategy to overcome the power crisis and, therefore, it must be treated with an equal emphasis.Sources privy to the meeting said the cabinet members called for bring some improvement amidst on-going energy crisis as compared to the present situation. Keeping in view the upcoming elections, the cabinet members were of the view that main priority of the incumbent government should be to tackle the power outages and worsening law and order situation in Balochistan.The prime minister, sources said, also asked the cabinet members to regularly monitor the loadshedding related developments in their constituencies.Sources said Raja reached in time for his first cabinet meeting, while only some cabinet members, out of over 50, were present there. After their arrival, the latecomers, sources said, appreciated the prime minister for starting the meeting at the scheduled time.Earlier, the water and power secretary told the cabinet that around 2000 MW OF electricity had been added to the national grid since June 23 and another more than 1000 MW would be put into the system during the next two to three days. The situation of loadshedding would ease up proportionally, the secretary added.Briefing the cabinet on electricity issue, the petroleum minister said he had issued the instructions regarding the release of 28000 tones furnace oil for the power plants to increase the generation by about 1500 MW within the next two to three weeks.In this regard, the water and power secretary was quite upbeat to meet the target of generating more than 15000 MW of electricity during the next two to three weeks as the melting of the glaciers were getting momentum with every passing hour and the river flow would improve substantially accordingly.The secretary said that the gap between the supply and demand would be narrowed down, which was to lead providing relief to people as a result of improved hydel power generation.Minister for Information and Broadcasting Qamar Zaman Kaira dispelled the impression created in a section of press that about 600 MW of electricity would be taken out of the KESC system for the national grid to ease the situation in the rest of the country.Raja directed the Energy Committee to strategize the slashing the line losses and electricity theft, which had been incurring huge losses to the power sector and national exchequer.Prime Minister also directed minister for Railways to make special arrangements for the early transportation of the fuel oil so that the same could be used for the power generation.The minister for railways told the cabinet that three special trains had been arranged for the purpose and the supply of the fuel oil would be ensured at the earliest, keeping in view the urgency to generate more electricity for the consumers at the earliest possible time.Meanwhile, the prime minister met President Asif Ali Zardari and informed him about the steps taken by the government to control the loadshedding.According to the Presidential spokesman, current political situation in the country with special focus on energy crisis came under discussion. It was decided that in first phase the unscheduled power outages would be controlled and at later stage the duration of load-shedding would be brought down by increasing the power generation.Raja informed Zardari that his team had worked out a plan to reduce the gap between the power generation and power consumption and hoped that with the early start of the monsoon rains in the country the water position in dams would increase which would provide them with extra power to provide relief to the people particularly in the upcoming holy month of Ramadan.Sources said the prime minister also briefed the president about his meetings with the leadership of various political parties during his Karachi visit, as both the leaders reiterated their commitment to take the political allies along and to continue with the policy of consensus and reconciliation.Agencies add: During the cabinet meeting, the prime minister directed the Ministry of Water and Power to recover the outstanding dues of Wapda (Water and Power Development Authority) from all the federal and provincial governments, departments and private sector entities, without any discrimination.He said in case of default by the government departments, the Ministry of Finance should consider deducting the outstanding dues through federal adjuster. Listing extremism and terrorism as serious challenges, the prime minister vowed to establish the writ of the state and said the country’s soil would not be allowed to be used for attacking other nations.He said Pakistan valued its relations with Islamic world, the US and China as well as neighbours like India and Afghanistan.He cited the crippling energy crisis and criticism of governance as other challenges faced by the PPP-led government.“My government is mindful of the fact that extremism, militancy, intolerance, sectarian violence and terrorism have posed a serious challenge to our sovereignty, security and national cohesion,” he said in his opening remarks at the meeting.“We as a nation have to thwart the sinister designs of these forces and the government, on its part, will work with lot of dedication to establish the writ of the state, wherever they operate.”“At the same time, it (Pakistan) expects its neighbours and other powers to refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of Pakistan,” he added.He acknowledged that Pak-US relations were passing through a very delicate and critical phase and said Islamabad would not make hasty and emotional decisions that did not auger well.Raja pointed out that the Nato supply routes to Afghanistan were blocked because of an unprovoked attack on Salala checkpost.“The unconditional apology from the US for this blatant attack is the demand of the Parliament and we shall proceed always keeping our national interests in view,” he said.Raja invited all Baloch leaders in and outside Pakistan to come and sit across the table to find an amicable solution of the issue.Raja also urged the management of PIA‚ Wapda‚ Railways‚ Steel Mills and other state enterprises to focus on their operational efficiency.
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