Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Power partially restored to parts of Balochistan

January 28, 2015

Nasirabad District power lines repaired. 

QUETTA: Electricity was partially restored in 23 districts of Balochistan late on Tuesday night as repair work on the power pylons of 220 kilo Volt Ampere (kVA) transmission line was concluded.

The pylons had been damaged in an attack late on Saturday night, which caused a cascading effect on the national grid and plunged nearly 80% of the country into darkness.

DPO Nasirabad Saleem Lehri told the The Express Tribune that repairs by the National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC) officials had been completed.

He added that restoration work had started once the police had given the NTDC officials security clearance owing to presence of militants in the Nasirabad District.

Once repairs were completed, the shortfall of electricity to Balochistan was met by increasing the supply from 160 mega watts (MW) to 350MW.

However, Balochistan still has an electricity shortfall of 1,300 MW.


Baloch areas still in dark, pylons yet to be repaired

QUETTA:The power supply suspended on Saturday night could not be fully restored in Balochistan and 28 districts, including Quetta, were suffering an acute shortage of electricity with a majority of them facing a complete blackout.

Of the 32 districts in the province, Gwadar, Turbat and Panjgur in Makran were getting uninterrupted supply from Iran, while the K-Electric was feeding Lasbela from Karachi.

Balochistan needed 1,600MW from the national grid for the 28 affected districts and after the massive breakdown that plunged 80 per cent of cities and towns into darkness, only around 160MW was available, an official of the Quetta Electric Supply Company (Qesco) told Dawn.

Blowing up of two power pylons between Dera Murad Jamali and Notal area of Nasirabad district was said to the main cause of the breakdown that affected Balochistan, parts of Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and parts of Punjab.

“Militants used high intensity explosives to blow up the pylons of 220KV supplying electricity to Balochistan from Guddu late on Saturday night. This affected the entire power supply system,” Qesco officials said.

They said three other huge pylons destroyed in Chattar area could also not be repaired so far. The banned Baloch Republican Army claimed responsibility for blasting the pylons.

In Lahore, a combination of bad governance, poor maintenance and non-professional bureaucratic management at the ministerial level is how power sector experts explain Saturday’s national electricity breakdown, fourth of its kind over the past 48 days.

The events of the breakdown created a sense of déjà vu and also explained general failure of governance, particularly in the power sector.

Saturday’s failure is a familiar story repeated three times over the past two months – internal safety mechanism creating a cascading effect, saving the system but plunging the entire country into darkness. 

It took six hours to start first machine and bringing back the system took almost 12 hours. A few plants were still being restored as late as 7pm.

Former managing directors of different power sector companies termed it complete concoction; not of facts, but implications.

“It must be a world record of having four national breakdowns over the past 48 days – one for every 12 days,” regretted a former head of the Pakistan Electric Power Company (Pepco).

“The government has conveniently blamed sabotage for this breakdown; how about the last three ones? Previously, there have been 168 cases of sabotage on different transmission lines, and none of them resulted in a national breakdown. How and why this one has resulted differently? That is a question, which needs to be answered,” he said.

In Islamabad, Federal Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Asif on Monday said that the power system, which was attacked by insurgents in Balochistan, will be restored by this evening.

According to a report on the state-run Radio Pakistan website, Asif told reporters that steps have been taken to improve the security of power pylons and an inquiry has been ordered. The ministry has also been instructed to submit a report within 48 hours, he said.

Asif ruled out speculations that the power shortage was a result of the oil crisis and said that Pakistan State Oil has booked 12 orders which will start to arrive by Wednesday.

He also said that the ministry is making efforts to bring loadshedding to zero in industrial areas within the next few days. To avoid complete power breakdowns in the future, the minister said that USAID and the China State Grid have been asked for assistance.


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