The Ministry of Water and Power on Friday told the Lahore High Court that the project of Kalabagh Dam was a viable proposition and that the federal government had been struggling to evolve consensus on the issue. The CJ adjourned further hearing in a petition against loadshedding to December 17 and summoned a representative of National Power Control Centre (NPCC) to seek suggestions on the issue.
Representing the ministry and Wapda as well, Khwaja Tariq Rahim stated that during the rule of the then President, Farooq Leghari, technicalities of the project were finalised but construction work could not be started. Rahim had appeared before the court of Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial in connection with a petition against unscheduled electricity loadshedding and exemption to VVIPs in the country.
The counsel further told the court that in the light of decisions by Council of Common Interests, 300MW of power had been withdrawn from KESC and added to the national grid. After that action, electricity loadshedding had been reduced across the country, he added. He said that out of a total of 21 million electricity consumers across the country, 2 million consumed less than 100 units in a month.
The counsel said that smart meters could be installed to ensure uninterrupted power supply to consumers of below 300 units, but it would require a huge financing. He said the government was already giving a subsidy of Rs 250 billion on electricity tariff. Petitioner”s counsel Azhar Siddique claimed that in India, electricity was free of cost for agriculture purpose. However, in Pakistan, there was no such facility. Rebutting the arguments, Rahim, however, stated that it was not possible as separate feeders would be required for the purpose.
The CJ remarked that commercial consumers, who were willing to buy electricity on inflated tariffs, could be exempted from the loadshedding. He observed that the court had faith in constitutional functionaries and had an expectation that they would discharge their duties to resolve the crisis of water and power. The petitioner, Chairman Judicial Activism, Panel Azhar Siddique, submitted that province of Punjab was being subjected to discrimination and given less electricity share. He said Punjab was being victimised in electricity load management plan. He claimed that power production was being adversely affected due to non-recovery of bills from other provinces.