August Issue 2009

By | Business | News & Politics | Published 11 years ago

“In July 2007, the power cuts in Pakistan lasted no more than three to four hours a day. In July 2008, Pakistanis had to face eight to ten hours of loadshedding a day. And today, power cuts now last 16-18 hours,” says Sajid Abbas, a farmer from Mandranwala village in Sialkot district. He has paddy fields that need a considerable amount of water, and, as the main source of irrigation in his area is underground water, this has to be extracted with the help of electricity or diesel-run tube wells. “It has become extremely difficult to irrigate my paddy fields with so much loadshedding; around 70% of the farmers in my area have had to switch to diesel engine-run tubewells in the last two years. This move has increased their costs tremendously, but it is the only option available to them. I am also thinking of installing a diesel engine because I do not see conditions improving in the near future,” he says.

Agriculture is not the only sector that has been badly hit by the long power cuts in the Punjab; the situation in all other sectors is equally distressing. Industrial production is suffering, exports are dwindling, unemployment is on the rise and the national economy has taken a general downturn. By all indications, the power crisis in Pakistan is taking a turn for the worse, aggravating the country’s economic situation. Manufacturing output has fallen by 8% in the past 10 months, due to the closure of several factories that were unable to cope with the power shortages.

Pakistan’s textile, leather and sports goods industries — the major source of the country’s export earnings — have been among the worst hit. In Faisalabad, the power loom industry is on the verge of collapse and, in Sialkot, the leather and sports goods industries are facing a similar fate, again because of the energy crisis. “Industrialists are facing severe problems due to loadshedding,” says Mian Hamid Javed, president of Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI). In his view, Faisalabad is the biggest casualty of loadshedding in the Punjab. “It is causing a negative impact on industrial output on the one hand, and reducing the employment opportunities of factory workers on the other. In fact, thousands of workers have lost their jobs.”

Javed feels the situation will get even worse if instant remedial measures are not taken. He maintains that the Faisalabad Steam Power Generation Station, which is under-utilised at present, should be reactivated to bring it up to its optimum capacity. “The power generation station is presently producing only 26% electricity of its total capacity,” states Javed. “The steam power generation station has a multi-fuel system, and is capable of producing 150-200 megawatts of electricity. Now that the prices of petroleum products have gone down considerably, the concerned authorities should be directed to provide diesel oil to the power generation station on a priority basis. That would help in reducing the loadshedding in the manufacturing sector,” he says.

The FCCI president has other practical suggestions to overcome the power shortage. He argues that all government functions, marriage ceremonies and other social events normally held in the evenings should now be scheduled before sunset. He also demands that the government ban the conventional 60-200 watt bulbs from 2010 onwards, and advises that new electricity connections to houses, industries and commercial centres should only be sanctioned after obtaining an affidavit from them stating that all electricity installations and bulbs on the premises are energy savers. Just through this small effort, around 2,000-3,000MW of electricity will be saved. “Additionally, the industries that have their own capacity to generate power should be allowed to sell their surplus energy to the neighbouring industries,” Mian Javed suggests. “The procedural constraints and hurdles from NEPRA and WAPDA should be rationalised and eliminated accordingly.”

Del306538-300x211“In July 2007, the power cuts in Pakistan lasted no more than three to four hours a day. In July 2008, Pakistanis had to face eight to ten hours of loadshedding a day. And today, power cuts now last 16-18 hours,” says Sajid Abbas, a farmer from Mandranwala village in Sialkot district. He has paddy fields that need a considerable amount of water, and, as the main source of irrigation in his area is underground water, this has to be extracted with the help of electricity or diesel-run tube wells. “It has become extremely difficult to irrigate my paddy fields with so much loadshedding; around 70% of the farmers in my area have had to switch to diesel engine-run tubewells in the last two years. This move has increased their costs tremendously, but it is the only option available to them. I am also thinking of installing a diesel engine because I do not see conditions improving in the near future,” he says.

Agriculture is not the only sector that has been badly hit by the long power cuts in the Punjab; the situation in all other sectors is equally distressing. Industrial production is suffering, exports are dwindling, unemployment is on the rise and the national economy has taken a general downturn. By all indications, the power crisis in Pakistan is taking a turn for the worse, aggravating the country’s economic situation. Manufacturing output has fallen by 8% in the past 10 months, due to the closure of several factories that were unable to cope with the power shortages.

Pakistan’s textile, leather and sports goods industries — the major source of the country’s export earnings — have been among the worst hit. In Faisalabad, the power loom industry is on the verge of collapse and, in Sialkot, the leather and sports goods industries are facing a similar fate, again because of the energy crisis. “Industrialists are facing severe problems due to loadshedding,” says Mian Hamid Javed, president of Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI). In his view, Faisalabad is the biggest casualty of loadshedding in the Punjab. “It is causing a negative impact on industrial output on the one hand, and reducing the employment opportunities of factory workers on the other. In fact, thousands of workers have lost their jobs.”

Javed feels the situation will get even worse if instant remedial measures are not taken. He maintains that the Faisalabad Steam Power Generation Station, which is under-utilised at present, should be reactivated to bring it up to its optimum capacity. “The power generation station is presently producing only 26% electricity of its total capacity,” states Javed. “The steam power generation station has a multi-fuel system, and is capable of producing 150-200 megawatts of electricity. Now that the prices of petroleum products have gone down considerably, the concerned authorities should be directed to provide diesel oil to the power generation station on a priority basis. That would help in reducing the loadshedding in the manufacturing sector,” he says.

The FCCI president has other practical suggestions to overcome the power shortage. He argues that all government functions, marriage ceremonies and other social events normally held in the evenings should now be scheduled before sunset. He also demands that the government ban the conventional 60-200 watt bulbs from 2010 onwards, and advises that new electricity connections to houses, industries and commercial centres should only be sanctioned after obtaining an affidavit from them stating that all electricity installations and bulbs on the premises are energy savers. Just through this small effort, around 2,000-3,000MW of electricity will be saved. “Additionally, the industries that have their own capacity to generate power should be allowed to sell their surplus energy to the neighbouring industries,” Mian Javed suggests. “The procedural constraints and hurdles from NEPRA and WAPDA should be rationalised and eliminated accordingly.”