Urea plants suffer Rs5.5bn loss

Posted on July 27, 2012. Filed under: Natural Gas, Pakistan |

LAHORE, July 25: In the first half of 2012, all SNGPL-based plants, including Agritech, DH Fertilisers, Pakarab and Engro (new plant), faced a collective loss of Rs5.5 billion in terms of revenue as their total sales of urea stood at 150,000 tons as against 316, 000 tons in the first half of last year.

In a statement, the fertiliser industry stated that 52 per cent decline in terms of sale translates itself in a revenue loss of Rs5.5 billion. The total urea production by SNGPL based plants in the first half of 2011 stood at 297,000 tons which declined by 33 per cent (or 198,000 tons) till June this year.

The plants operated at 18 per cent oftheir capacity during these six months against 25 per cent last year. During the first half, they faced an estimated gas curtailment of 82 per cent in which Agritech and Pak Arab got gas for 63 days each while Engro Enven and DH Fertilisers got gas for 33 days in the first six months of 2012.

In the first quarter of this year, all SNGPL-based and SSGC-based plants faced a loss of revenue by 53 per cent compared with first quarter of 2011, generating Rs8.16 billion revenue in the first quarter as compared to last years` Rs17.29 billion.

In 2012, four plants based on SNGPL as well as SSGC based FFBL lost profitability by 125 per cent and made acollective loss of Rs1.076 billion whereas the same plants had made profit of Rs4.3 billion in the first quarter of 2011.

The SNGPL-based plants are facing crisis as 82 per cent gas curtailment was never witnessed before 2012.

Despite making an investment of $2.3 billion in the last four years on new production capacity, making Pakistan world`s seventh largest urea manufacturer, there is an idle urea capacity of over three million tons.

Fertiliser sector officials said that if same gas curtailment continues during the remaining five months of 2012, the SNGPL-based fertiliser plants would be forced to shut down permanently.

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300 CNG stations facing closure

Posted on July 27, 2012. Filed under: Energy crisis, Natural Gas, Pakistan |

ISLAMABAD, July 25: In a bid to put a cap on once robust CNG industry the government has refused to renew the licence of nearly 300 CNG stations, paving way for the closure of all CNG outlets in three years` time.

The Ministry of Petroleum in a written directive, available with Dawn, has stopped Ogra from granting extension/renewal in CNG licences of operational stations on their expiry. CNG licences were granted for the period of 15 years with provision of a five-year extension. The government, however, has decided not to grant any extension to manage the shortfall of gas.

Adviser to Prime Minister on Petroleum and Natural Resources Dr Asim Hussain on July 13 told Senate that due to continuous gas crisis, the CNG stations would be closed down in phased manner.

Well-placed sources aware of the development told Dawn that with this direction of the ministry around 290 CNG stations would be closed down shortly after completing 15 years duration in accordance with Ogra licence.

They said many licenseeshas approached Ogra for grant of renewal in their CNG licences, however, their cases have now been held up by Ogra, adding, `currently 3,337 CNG stations are functioning` They said the ministry of petroleum had now started materialising its three years long policy by putting a ban on CNG business. The adviser verbally directed Ogra not to grant five years renewal/ extension in the existing CNG marketing licences on their expiry date under Rule 7 (2) of Pakistan CNG (Production & Marketing) Rules, 1992 and further advised Director General (Gas) of the MP & NR to issue policy guidelines/ instructions in the matter to Ogra.

The CNG industry was set up in 1997 in Pakistan. It saw a massive boom due to high petroleum prices during the past decade and 3.5 million commercial and private vehicles were converted to CNG.

But Pakistan started experiencing gas shortfall in 2007 which worsened in the following years forcing government to put an end to CNG industry which is estimated to be valuing more than Rs15 trillion.

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Govt bans import of CNG cylinders, conversion kits

Posted on December 16, 2011. Filed under: Natural Gas, Pakistan |

ISLAMABAD: The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet has approved a ban on the import of CNG cylinders and conversion kits in the wake of the current gas shortage in the country.
The ECC which met here on Thursday with Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh in the chair also banned installation of new CNG kits in vehicles.
The existing stock and its owners shall be allowed to use their kits and cylinders, and no new licence shall be issued in this regard, the ECC decided. In the same way, CNG-fitted public transport vehicles i.e. buses/vans are exempted from this moratorium.
The ECC reviewed its previous proposal of monthly natural gas load management programme (winter 2011) on the SNGPL system, and decided to withdraw the previous approval of supply of 76 MMCFD gas to IPPs because of severe shortage of gas in the coming months and to enhance the gas supply to fertiliser plants.
The ECC also approved the summary “energy efficiency audit of fertiliser plants” and “ban of POL products export to Afghanistan and Central Asian Republics” (CARs), proposed by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources.
The committee was informed that the actual condition is quite different as this import is being practiced only on paper and all these POL products are being sold here in Pakistan after going through the export process.
The ECC also decided that purchase of 200,000 tones of sugar will be re-tendered with certain modifications in the tender terms and conditions. Prior to this decision, the committee reviewed the sugar situation in the country and discussed in detail the proposal to purchase 200,000 tons of sugar from domestic sugar mills.
The finance minister appreciated the sub-committee’s effort in lowering the sugar pricefrom Rs63 to Rs53.73 on December 12. The committee directed the TCP to issue a gallop tender and finalise the process within the coming 10 to 12 days.
The ECC was of the opinion that previously blacklisted sugar mills will also be allowed to bid in this tender provided they deposit the penalty to the TCP. The committee discussed proposal of the Ministry of Industries for import of urea for the Rabi season 2011-12.
The ministry informed the ECC that import requirements of urea are 700,000 tones to meet overall demand of 3,400,000 tones, in which 200,000 tons have already been allowed. The petroleum minister added that import requirements of urea would increase further due to short supply of natural gas in the coming two months. The ECC discussed the proposal at length and decided to meet the remaining shortage of urea for Rabi 2011-12.
The finance minister being the chairman of the ECC enquired from the committee members about formula on the basis of which gas is provided to fertiliser plants, and took exception that despite provision of gas to certain plants they do not lower the prices of their products.
The minister also expressed concern on the pricing regime and subsidy provision and decided that a proper distribution mechanism be identified, and in this regard formed a committee headed by the petroleum minister and comprising secretaries of Water of Power, Production, Finance, Food, Industries and Planning Commission deputy chairman, to deal with fertiliser companies for fixing the urea price. The committee will report to the ECC in three to four days.
The committee also deliberated upon the distribution of available and imported urea, and directed the concerned ministry to ensure the pricing regime for the commodity.

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Hazards of energy savers

Posted on December 15, 2011. Filed under: Pakistan, Uncategorized |

THE energy crisis in our country has taken us towards the energy conservation these days at the national level. The use of energysaver bulbs instead of traditional bulbs and tubelights has increased throughout the country.

As everyone knows that energy-saver bulbs are economical in use but nobody knows that these energy savers can be a serious health hazard. A few months ago, in one of the newspapers I have noticed an awareness message published by Enercon (The NationalEnergy Conservation Centre) with the title `Energy saver bulbs have one hitch: toxic mercury`. I was greatly surprised because I was not aware that these saver bulbs can be dangerous to health if broken. The Enercon said if the energy saver bulb is broken, the room should be evacuatedfor atleastfifteen minutes. The low energy bulbs contains mercury (poisonous) which can cause migraine disorientation, imbalances and other health problems. When inhaled, it can cause allergies, severe skinconditions and other diseases.

Some precautions were also mentioned in case an energy-saver bulb is shattered, e.g., to leave the room, and not to use vacuum cleaner because it will spread toxic mercury around.

They should be cleaned after wearing rubber gloves and placed in sealed plastic bag. The trash of the remains should not to be thrown in a dustbin.

This is another issue that even in Islamabad no separate bins have been provided near residentialareas to dump toxic materials like batteries, remains of broken thermometers, blood-pressure instruments, etc.

The awareness message also mentioned warnings for the manufacturers to label their bulbs for safe disposal which should be observed on energy-saver packs.

I appreciate the efforts of the Enercon for providing information to the public. However, more should be done for their safe disposal.


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Power crisis and policy failures

Posted on August 29, 2011. Filed under: Energy crisis, Pakistan |

IN SPITE of the present government’s many promises, power shortages continue to take a heavy toll on the country’s economy. Why has this problem proven so hard to tackle for the policymakers in Islamabad?

The simple answer to the question is that an effort is still to be made to find a solution that addresses all aspects of the problem: supply and demand sides of the equation, the institutional imperatives for taking care of the shortages, and planning the future so that this problem does not reappear again.

It is not that the present government in particular has failed to develop a coherent strategy for this important sector of the economy. This has happened many times in the past. Pakistan has experienced shortages several times before. Each time the government response was different based on whatever was the thinking at that time not only in Pakistan but also among development experts around the world.

Several aid providing agencies have had a profound impact on the development of the power sector in the country. This process of evolving an approach as the country went from crisis to crisis means the absence of coherence in the way the governments at various times have dealt with the subject of electric power.

The Lahore-based Institute of Public Policy (IPP), carried out a survey of 65 industrial firms operating in various sectors of the economy to develop a better understanding of how electric power shortages were affecting the economy and how various firms were dealing with the problem.

The institute found that power outages averaged at four hours and 36 minutes for the firms surveyed. Those that were affected the most did not need continuous operation while those that could not interrupt the production cycle suffered the least amount of outages. This suggests that an effort was made by the distribution companies to ration the supply of power taking into account needs of the end users.

There were several different types of responses to the outages by the firms surveyed. Some 75 per cent of the sampled firms went for self-generation, not confident that power shortage was a short-term phenomenon. This was a costly solution. The average cost of selfgeneration is estimated at two and a half times the cost of power obtained from the distribution companies. The firms not involved in continuous production made adjustments by changing the hours of operation.

On the whole, the IPP concluded that a significant proportion of the potential losses were recovered through self-generation or adjustments in operations. “For the sample as a whole, the extent of recovery of output is approximately 60 per cent.

Highest recovery rates were observed in the industries which have acquired self-generation capabilities at 85 per cent. Units which are unable to acquire generators lose about 73 per cent of the output.” Extrapolating from the results provided by the sample of industrial units surveyed, the IPP estimated that “the total cost to the economy of power loadshedding in the industrial sector…was equivalent to two per cent of the gross domestic product.” The cost to the economy of the shortages of this important input was because of policy lapses. Those responsible for making public policy had not given enough attention to ensure the regular supply of power by making sufficient investments. For instance, Pakistan has not been able to make up its mind as to which source of power it should depend upon.

Hydro electricity would be far the cheapest source and was the focus of attention by the government at one time. Two massive dams were built, one at Mangla (1,000 MW, inceasing to 1,666 MW after the dam’s height is raised) on the Jhelum and the other at Tarbela (3,478 MW), on the Indus almost half a century ago.

The only significant addition since then was with the construction of the Ghazi Baroda power station (1,450 MW). For political reasons various governments have not been able to proceed with some other mega projects such as the dam and power station at Kalabagh and also on the Indus.

When in the 1990s, the government of the day invited private capital into the generation part of the power sector, it allowed those interested to use natural gas as the fuel. The conventional wisdom at that time was that the country had enough gas available to supply the power stations with the amounts needed. That did not turn out to be the case.

The governments have also ignored the impact a rational price regime for electricity would have had on total demand and its distribution among different users. Demand increased significantly in the 2000s. The rate of growth was estimated at seven per cent a year compared to four per cent in the 1990s and 11 per cent in the 1980s. The price regime subsidised household consumption at the expense of industry and the modern service sectors. Accordingly, the share of household demand in the last decade doubled from 23 per cent of the total in 1980-81 to 46 per cent in 2007-08.

The government headed by President Pervez Musharraf miscalculated the demandelasticity for power, assuming that the high rate of growth in the first few years of its tenure would not translate into an even larger rate of increase in the demand for electricity. No significant new investments were made to generate additional power and the supply-demand gap continued to widen. The share of public sector expenditure on the power sector which averaged about 28 per cent of the total in the two decades before the Musharraf period declined to less than three per cent while he was in office.

Then there was confusion on the institutional side. In the late 1990s, the World Bank used its lending programme of several hundred million dollars for the power sector to persuade the government to reorganise the Water and Power and Development Authority. According to the plan drawn up by the Bank and accepted by Pakistan, the authority was to be split up into several smaller units responsible separately for hydro-power, thermal power, transmission and distribution.

This structure reflected the thinking in development circles at that time according to which even natural monopolies such as the entities responsible for power distribution were to be run as for-profit corporate bodies.

A new regulatory agency looking after all these new organisations and also fixing tariffs at various levels – from generation to transmission, from transmission to distribution and from distribution to final consumers – was set up. This restructuring has been done in a halfhearted way. The result is considerable institutional confusion. In the meanwhile some experts at the World Bank have begun to think that integrated systems as Wapda was at one point may not, after all, be a bad way of running the power sector.

The conclusion one should reach from this quick overview is that the power sector development in Pakistan has suffered from government neglect.

This also happened in several other sectors in which shortages critical inputs for the economy have appeared. Islamabad should take a careful look at the current situation and put in place a policy framework that would be consistent with the demands of a growing economy and would also take cognisance of the resources available in the country for power generation.

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Refinery at Reko-Diq Balochistan chalks out investment plan

Posted on June 23, 2011. Filed under: Fossil fuels, Pakistan |

The Balochistan government will invest over Rs20 billion in different sectors through an Investment Board to generate resources for setting up refinery at Reko-Diq Copper-CumGold Project site.

Speaking at a post-budget briefing here on Wednesday, Provincial Finance Minister Mir Asim Kurd and Secretary Finance Dostain Jamaldini said that for the purpose an amount of Rs8.5 billion had been set aside in the next provincial budget.

They however said that a sum of Rs12 billion which was earmarked in the current fiscal year could not be invested as the governing body, which includes noted scientist Dr Samar Mubarakmand, was preparing the feasibility report for the installation of refinery.

The finance minister said that the Investment Board headed by the chief minister had already been set up to decide the utilisation of funds. Mirza Qamar Baig, a former bureaucrat, was vice-chairman of the board. Replying to a question, Kurd said that the provincial government intended to run the Reko-Diq Copper-Cum-Gold Project. However, he said, no decision has so far been taken about giving mining licence to any company. “We will take final decision about awarding mining rights according to the Mines Act,” he informed. He also said that the provincial government wanted to purchase 25 per cent shares of Pakistan Petroleum Limited.

“The Investment Board would also consider other sectors for the investment to generate resources for establishing the proposed refinery,” Secretary Finance Dostain Jamaldini told a questioner.

Mr Kurd said that the feasibility report of Reko-Diq project had been finalised. “We have allocated Rs8.5 billion in the next fiscal year budget on the recommendation of the Dr Samar,” he disclosed.

He said that with functioning of the proposed refinery, the Balochistan government would be earning Rs58 billion in annual incomes and it was the main reason that no mining licence to any foreign company had been issued.

The finance minister said that the Balochistan government would sign an agreement for exploring and mining at Saindak Copper and Gold project with any investor on the condition of 50 per cent share in the total income.

Referring to the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) for the year 2011-12, he said that it was up 9 per cent of the current year’s PSDP that was Rs26.75 billion. He said that provincial government succeeded through its measures to overcome the deficit of around Rs7 billion projected in the current year’s budget.

“We have curtailed our nondevelopment expenditures and generated resources to provide maximum funds for the PSDP,” Mr Kurd said.

He did not agree with a questioner that non-development expenditures were increased manifold and said that there was around 6-34 per cent increase due to the decision of increasing salaries and pensions of the government employees.

Subsidy on agriculture tube-wells was also increased from Rs2 billion to Rs3 billion annually.

Responding to a question, the finance minister said that the federal government had committed to provide Rs7 billion for improving law and order situation in the province but it did not fulfil its promise.

“The federal government has again promised that it will give Rs2 billion in 2011-12 for improving the security situation,” he added.

Mr Jamaldini said that the provincial government would achieve its revenue collection target set for the financial year 2011-12.

“The province could enhance its revenue and income only from mining, fisheries, livestock and agriculture sectors,” he added.

We are far behind from other three provinces in collection of revenue including General Sales Tax (GST), Capital Gain Tax (CGT) and Property Tax, however, we are raising adequate amount from motor vehicle tax and stamp duty,” Jamaldini said.

Replying to a question, the finance minister said that the allocation for the law and order had been reduced. Last year government had earmarked Rs12.5 billion for this purpose while in the 2011-12 budget allocation for law and order would be Rs11.5 billion.

He said that 90 per cent funds of the Public Sector Development Programme for the current fiscal year had been utilised.

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FFC signs closing documents for wind power project

Posted on June 23, 2011. Filed under: Alternative, Pakistan, Wind |

With the signing of closing documents for the 49.5MW wind power project of Fauji Fertiliser Company in the Gharo-Ketibandar Wind Corridor here on Wednesday, the country is now entering into the era of generating electricity from renewable energy.

The project will be constructed and commissioned within 16 months with an expected cost of $133.5 million, financed by FFC and leading local banks. The wind power generation will help reduce the carbon footprint in the country and improve the national as well as global environment in addition to its economical benefits.

AEDB Chief Executive Officer Arif Allauddin and FFC Managing Director LtGeneral (Retd) Malik Arif Hayat signed the closing document witnessed by Federal Minister for Water and Power Syed Naveed Qamar.

The minister termed the agreement as a landmark achievement in the history of wind energy sector. “With this development, the way has paved for fast development of the renewable energy sector since the whole background infrastructure like tariff, grid code, EPA and IA was in place for projects in renewable energy sector,” Qamar said.

Pakistan offers an investment-friendly and lucrative wind energy market for the investors and equipment suppliers, he added.

He said that Pakistan possesses immense wind resources, especially in the coastal areas of the country, which could not be harnessed for one or the other reasons.

The minister said that the federal government was in touch with the Sindh government for its help in allocating more land for wind project in Gharo-Ketibandar Wind Corridor.

More corridors being explored all over the country, wind masts were being installed in Balochistan and Punjab, he said.

He lauded National Electricity and Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) for its efforts to give tariff to FFC which would act as model for other renewable energy projects especially wind power projects.

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Energy crisis: some options

Posted on June 23, 2011. Filed under: Energy crisis, Pakistan |

NOT a day passes when we do not hear of serious agitation against power shutdowns in every province of the country, not to mention anything regarding the gas shortage in industries. However, nothing is being done to improve the situation.

The real problem is affording the high costs of power and since the government is unable to pay higher subsidies, how does it expect commoners to pay such steep amounts by transferring it to them.

These are not power shortages but, in fact, deliberate power cuts.

Simply put, we cannot afford to operate most of our furnace oil power plants as there is no money to pay for the fuel. It is the high cost of power production that is ‘forcing’ us to operate only 13,000 to 14,000 MW power plants when we have a capacity for 20,000 MW ones.

In the late 90s, new power plants were being ‘financially engineered’ and every time the future problem of high furnace oil costs was raised, the planners avoided providing any answers, as many people became billionaires in approving and setting up these inefficient and polluting power plants with built-in mechanisms to create the exorbitant costs of power that we have to bear today.

While we drown ourselves in the never-ending misery of high costs of power, let us see what the world is doing?

The International Energy Agency in its latest ‘Technology Roadmap’ (May 16) shows how efficient technologies can change the energy scenario substantially. Just one technology application of combined heat and power (or cogeneration) in buildings will reach about 747 GWe by 2050, about 45 times greater than today’s level which is already accepted as the norm in most European and Japanese buildings.

We have clear directives at the highest level to ensure that natural gas is only sanctioned to cogeneration systems in industries and commercial buildings. But then what good is such a directive if there are other ways to bypass it? It is worst when a ministrysponsored Building Energy Code of Pakistan totally ignores the major energy source, fuelling every sector of the economy.

The latest ‘Energy Code’ has no section on natural gas or LPG and thus has nothing to offer in terms of efficient and safe utilisation of gas in buildings. The so-called Pakistan Energy Code has been simply copied from foreign standards and since it is not normal for a building in the United States to have efficient gas-based power and central air-conditioning systems, we (slaves that we are) should also follow the same energy code! What really takes the cake is the provision of accepting inefficient absorption-type central air-conditioning plants in our latest Energy Code. Even now urgent corrective action will greatly help in avoiding unaffordable power generation with furnace oil by making available thousands of MW of low-cost power from CHP/Cogen Systems if we only provide proper incentives for industries and commercial buildings.

Are we up to this challenge for the sake of the country’s future?

AAZA Karachi

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Wapda seeks 120pc hike in power tariff

Posted on June 23, 2011. Filed under: Pakistan, Tariff, Wapda / KESC |

ISLAMABAD, June 22: The Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) has sought an increase of 120 per cent in its tariff for hydel power from less than Rs6 per unit at present to Rs13 from July 1 this year.

The unusually high tariff increase has been sought mainly because of induction of a small power plant — 72MW Khan Khwar Hydropower Project (KKHP) — into the system but this would have its effect on the overall cost of about 6,500MW hydropower generation by Wapda.

In its tariff petition filed before the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra), Wapda had solicited an increase of Rs7.10 per unit in variable energy cost from existing Rs5.90 per unit to Rs13 per unit.

It has sought a raise in fixed charges from Rs414 per kilowatt per month to Rs939 per kilowatt per month, up by 127 per cent.

Wapda Hydroelectric is currently operating 13 hydropower stations having installed capacity of 6,444MW. With the commissioning of 72MW KKHP in December 2010, the installed capacity has increased to 6,516MW.

On the basis of audited financial accounts for financial year 2009-10 and projected change in revenue requirement for fiscal year 2011-12, the regulator asset base of Wapda has increased from Rs143 billion to Rs214 billion due to additional capital investments on the ongoing projects.

The Wapda’s operation and maintenance cost has also increased from Rs4 billion to Rs10.63 billion, up by 166 per cent, because of repeated increases in pay and allowances and higher maintenance costs. In addition, the overall weighted average cost of capital has also increased from 13.7 per cent to 15.1 per cent owing to increase in the cost of debt.

On top of that, the depreciation cost of operating assets also increased from Rs5.4 billion to Rs6.9 billion due to addition in operating assets. The water use charges of Wapda have also increased slightly form Rs720 million in 2009-10 to Rs836 million on account of higher generation at Mangla power station.

On the other hand, income from other activities like fisheries and boating etc has dropped from Rs2.1 billion two years ago to Rs825 million.

Wapda said that its revenue gap stood at about Rs12 billion in 2009-10 and Rs12.35 billion in 2010-11 whose determination and notification was delayed.

The proposed tariff increase has been estimated on the basis of net electricity output of 30,783 Gwh that accounts for about one-fourth of the entire annual power output, including generation from all other sources.

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Power riots spread after consumers receive ‘inflated’ bills

Posted on June 22, 2011. Filed under: Energy crisis, Pakistan, Tariff, Wapda / KESC |

KARACHI, June 21: While many city areas continued to remain without electricity for most part of the day, residents and traders staged demonstrations to protest against the Karachi Electric Supply Company after they received “inflated” bills on Tuesday.

Power riots spread to Jodia Bazaar, Old Golimar, Gadap, North Karachi, Korangi, Landhi, Lyari and other localities, where people blocked roads by setting tyres on fire. Contingents of police and Rangers were called in to control the crowds at some places. Street protests against frequent power breakdowns have also been planned for Friday.

Amid the demonstrations, many influential segments of society have started appealing to the people not to pay their monthly power utility bills and to resist the power utility if it launched a disconnection drive.

Several protesters complained that they had been suffering up to 14 hours of loadshedding daily and yet they received bills with power dues twice the amount they had paid last month.

Some of them said the KESC sent inflated bills without meter reading and that the management should stop blaming workers for its poor service.

People staged a protest demonstration against power outages in Jodia Bazaar and shouted slogans against the KESC management. They lit a bonfire and smashed everything inside it with great ferocity. Traders and residents of the Bolton Market and Napier Road areas also staged protests. Residents of Old Golimar and adjoining areas were equally enraged. They blocked traffic by setting fire to old tyres.

A resident of North Karachi’s Sector 7D3 was among the thousands of KESC consumers who had received inflated electricity bills on June 20. He claimed that electricity charges for one month to be paid by June 25 were three times that of the pre vious bill. “The June 2011 bill, with normal charging mode status, carrying a meter reading of 28952 as of June 1 requires me to pay Rs5,700 for consuming 557 units,” he said. In fact, the meter reading on June 21 was 28771, he added.

A visit to the recently relocated billing office of KESC North Karachi Zone on Tuesday was not productive. Half of the staff was standing outside and the rest was showing least interest in helping the consumers who had gathered there to get their bills corrected.

No senior official was sitting at the office and some officials were discouraging the visitors, saying that bill correction was not possible. The officials were quoted as saying that people should better pay the bills as Nepra had allowed 79 paisa fuel adjustment for the months of April and May and its impact would be shown in the next bill.

Online bills While the power crisis deepened with prolonged outages and unattended faults blamed by the KESC management on workers’ protest, monthly bills remained undelivered in many areas.

In this situation, the KESC management advised people who had not received monthly electricity bills around their usual time to use alternative online arrangements for payment of bills.

The KESC spokesperson said that it had introduced five easy methods for the convenience of customers besides the normal way of using printed bills. First, people could visit the utility’s official website and enter the 13-digit account number to retrieve duplicate copies of the current electricity bills, which could be printed and presented at all banks for making payment. Secondly, people could go to the offices of Nadra, NIB Bank branches, Easy Paisa outlets, UBL Omni Banking and 1Link ATMs, and present the 13-digit account number. These outlets would retrieve bill details and provide a payment receipt of the bill to the customer. Thirdly, the customers who did not receive their monthly bills, could phone the KESC call centre 118 and follow the automated system to retrieve a duplicate copy of the bill. Fourthly, people could email 13-digit account number to receive an online copy of their bill, which could be used for payment. Fifthly, people familiar with online payment could use their existing online banking services as most banks provided the facility for payment of utility bills.

Workers The protesting labour union of the KESC rejected the alternative ‘facility’ for bills payment and said the management did not assure people of enhanced power supply. The labour union asked the government and the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority to take notice of the KESC management’s high-handedness and complete apathy towards people’s problems and needs.

A few consumers whom Dawn spoke to were furious at the management’s measures saying that their major concern was resumption of normal power supply.

They said the KESC had not been recording the actual meter reading while with this move the power utility had attempted to absolve itself of delivering the bills on time.

Protest call The Jamaat-i-Islami Karachi chapter has announced that June 24 would be observed as a protest day against the increasing hours of power loadshedding and tariff hike.

A party’s handout said that power outages had affected the commercial and industrial businesses. The demonstrations would be staged on roads and at roundabouts. The main protest would be staged at Lasbela Chowk, the handout stated.

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