Friday, October 7, 2011

How Pakistan can produce abundant electricity!

Upright Opinion: Rebuilding Pakistan -----4

October 6, 2011

By Saeed Qureshi

During the two stints ( 1988-1990) and ( 1993-1996) of Benazir Bhutto as the prime minister of Pakistan, her spouse Asif Zardari was the main brain behind her faulty and self-perpetuating decisions. One of those decisions that she took was to hire the international IPPs (independent power producers) to overcome the growing demand of electricity.

As far my memory can help me I reckon there were a total of 12 IPPs with whom Asif Ali Zardari inked agreements to produce electric power in Pakistan. The tariff that was agreed upon was much higher than the prevailing rates then. The opposition raised hell and under pressure from the rival political parties and due to the stigma of Mr. 10 per cent, the plan could not make any headway.

But the Baloch Zardari never forgot that setback. After assuming the presidency of Pakistan his main penchant has been to once again hire IPPs. Besides, the so called rental units have been marshaled to meet the burgeoning shortfall that has created mayhem in Pakistan.

The deals or the agreements that have been worked this time are barbaric and speak for the callous disregard of the PPP power wielders for the majority of the people who cannot even eke out their one meal a day. The rental power units have been generously paid in advance and so are the IPPs who may generate the power or not but would be paid for the time these remain under rent.

There is no accountability for their slow production or no production. The IPPs and rental obsolete units have been paid billions of rupees in advance while their output is faulty and so low as to never meet the phenomenal shortage that bedevils the people of Pakistan.

On top of it the government is insensitive to the sufferings of the people. The entire country is in a state of commotion and outrage. Due to wide gap between the generation and the consumption, the industry is most affected and is at a standstill wholly or marginally.

The educational institutions, the hospitals, the household across the country are undergoing an indescribable agony. The population is turning into psychological patients.

Such is the apathy, incompetence and audacity of the sitting government as they fear no accountability nor have any respect for law and the courts’ decisions. We can see the president of Pakistan, the prime minister, and ministers sitting in cozy royal wide chairs, gossiping, chatting, and smiling in their bushy moustaches as if heaping insult on the intellect and dignity of the people of Pakistan.

Their only obsession is to cling to power, amass as much wealth as they can. For those ignoble goals they make and break new alliances with the political parties that are always on sale and ready for mortgage.

There is no plan or strategy or project in sight that would genuinely address the most heart rending distress and torture of the people of Pakistan. There is complete lack of any meaningful initiative or worthwhile drive to provide electric power to the harassed citizens who cannot sleep, get water pumps running, cook their meals, or turn on the fan. Bangladesh despite smaller in size and more population is better than Pakistan.

In a country where there is grinding poverty, it is outright dacoity and extortion to force the people to pay Rs. 20 per unit for one watt of electricity. This fleecing should be punished with hundred of lashes and several years in jail to the felons.

But who can punish these looters for their limitless crimes? In Pakistan there is no accountability for the criminals from top to bottom, for their naked nepotism, the wanton misuse of authority, the widespread and rampant corruption.

There are scores of criminal cases pending against the president down to every minister and parliamentarian for gross misdeeds. The superior judiciary has been handing out verdicts for the executive to take follow up actions. But how can thieves, thugs, robbers, and public enemies take action against themselves?

A beautiful country is going to dogs and is declining; the people caught in a web of countless socio-economic maladies aggravated by utter lack of concern by the rulers for their miseries.

Everyone in these desperate times is offering shortcut remedies for the multitude of diverse problems that the people of Pakistan are facing every day, every hour and every moment. I am inclined to offer my recipe and solution for an immediate resolution of the power shortage in Pakistan. My plan is simple, less costly and can be completed in 6 months to a year. This comprises three parts as follows:

•To absolutely eliminate the theft and misuse of power lines.

•To introduce a new cost effective and durable system of transmission of power from the grid to local transformers and to the houses.

•To maximize the generation of electricity even beyond the total need of the country.

I shall elaborate these three measures in my next article. I am aware my voice is lone in the wilderness and would face stony silence from the decision makers or may be ridiculed by the cynics. But as an earnest well wisher of the people of Pakistan, it is my foremost obligation to express my perceptions on an issue that is paramount and that has deprived the people of their peace of mind.

To be continue

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