Govt wants to Initiate 5-Hours Load-Shedding and Closure of Markets by 8 PM in all Pakistan

Govt wants to Initiate 5 Hours Load Shedding, also to close markets by 8 pm. During the scorching summer months, citizens are bracing themselves for extended periods of 3-5 hours of load-shedding. This unfortunate circumstance arises from the government’s decision to curtail the import of furnace oil for electricity generation due to a shortage of US dollars. An official from the Energy Ministry revealed that the country is currently grappling with an energy deficit of around 4,000MW, causing consumers to endure power outages lasting 2-3 hours.

In a recent announcement, Ahsan Iqbal, the Minister for Planning Development and Special Initiatives, disclosed that the National Economic Council (NEC) had given its approval to a proposal aimed at conserving energy. This project entails the nationwide closure of all markets at 8 pm. The decision was made following a meeting attended by representatives from all provinces. Iqbal emphasized that after careful consideration of the prevailing circumstances, a unanimous agreement was reached to enforce the 8 pm market closure starting from July 1. Furthermore, there is a collective consensus to implement this measure across all provinces.

The decision has faced opposition from traders:

However, this decision has faced opposition from traders who firmly rejected the federal government’s directive. The All Pakistan Traders Association swiftly responded, demanding the withdrawal of the decision to close shops at 8 pm. President Jamil Baloch conveyed their stance in a press release, stating unequivocally that no shops would be shuttered at 8 pm this summer. Baloch argued that previous governments had failed in their attempts to enforce such measures, citing the fact that daytime purchases are virtually nonexistent during the summer season, with buying activity primarily occurring between 8 pm and 11 pm.

Importantly, Pakistan’s overall electricity generation capacity stands at 44,000MW, while consumption currently hovers around 21,500MW. Customers who have already paid nearly Rs. 900 billion in capacity charges can expect their bills to surge to Rs. 1,400 billion in the upcoming fiscal year. This increase stems from a rise in the tariff structure for capacity payments.

Electricity Production

Meanwhile, the nation is grappling with escalating line and recovery losses. As a result, the additional electricity generation exacerbates the existing losses. An official noted that hydropower, capable of generating up to 9,400MW, is not being utilized to its full potential, given the present average generation of approximately 4,000MW. The Neelum-Jehlum Hydropower Project remains non-operational, resulting in a significant shortage of 969 MW. Moreover, the Tarbela dam, beset by construction challenges and varying water flows across provinces, is currently generating minimal electricity. Dependence on water releases from the main dams of Tarbela and Mangla for hydropower production further complicates the situation, as water availability differs by province. This ongoing construction at Tarbela has deprived the national grid of approximately 1,410MW of electricity, as lamented by the official.

In summary, the impending load-shedding, driven by reduced furnace oil imports, presents a challenging scenario for citizens during the peak of summer. The decision to close markets at 8 pm has sparked a disagreement between the federal government and traders. Meanwhile, the nation is grappling with an energy shortfall, increasing capacity charges for customers, and mounting losses due to construction and operational challenges in hydropower generation.