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SC expresses concern over unprecedented load shedding in Karachi

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Tuesday expressed annoyance over the K-electric for unprecedented load shedding in Karachi.

A two-member bench of the apex court comprising Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan heard the suo moto notice case regarding unannounced load shedding in Karachi.

During the course of proceedings, Power Division, Ministry of Energy has filed its reply. The court examined the reply and termed it thoroughly unacceptable.

Umer Rasool, Secretary, Power appeared before the Court and stated that this reply had been filed by him.

The court made observations that it seemed the reply of Power Division was contrary to what NEPRA was doing and taking action against K-Electric and also seemed to be no coordination between the Power Division and NEPRA and further with NTDC.

The court stated that the Ministry of Energy (Power Division) was required to ensure that there was proper coordination between all the departments and whatever was to be done with regard to K-Electric a coordinated decision should be taken by all the relevant departments, agencies and companies.

The court also stated that same should be executed by one department, in that, there should be one window operation with the K-Electric.

K-Electric should not be allowed to go about various departments of the Government or companies or agencies for achieving of its objectives, it added.

The Attorney General for Pakistan contended that since the last date of hearing regarding K-Electric matter i.e. 13.08.2020, situation in Karachi has become worse and becoming more and more worse day by day, as on the present day, almost half of the Karachi did not have supply of electricity.

Advocate Abid S. Zuberi stated that this state of affairs was because of the rains in the city of Karachi as the infrastructure of K-Electric had submerged or inundated in the water.

If that be so, K-Electric being a private company, should apply its own resources for ensuring clearing of its sub-stations and other distribution network from the rain water and in this regard it cannot wait for any assistance from the government, in that, the K-Electric was a private company, who had to do its own work and its basic work being supply of electricity to the city of Karachi, such work cannot be interrupted for mere reason that its installations had been affected by rain, he added.

He said that as a private institution, it should immediately care for such installations and have it cleared immediately, so that, electricity supply was restored to its consumers and K-Electric could not blame any institution of the government in this regard, for that,  K-Electric had to do its own work and maintain its installations and also to secure them from any whether effect.

The Attorney General stated that he had not been able to consult the officials of the Ministry of Energy (Power Division) and that he needed time for such consultation and thereafter, would submit a proper report to the Court. At the same time, the Attorney General had referred to provision of Section 26 of the Regulation of Generation, Transmission and Distribution of Electric Power Act, 1997.

The Attorney General had contended that the issue of electricity in Karachi was that K-Electric had exclusive right of generation and distribution of electricity in the city of Karachi and therefore, to overcome the issue of exclusivity, the above quoted provision of law had to be given effect and the determination had to be made by the Authority.

“As the law has provided the provision, we do not see any impediment as to why the Authority is not empowered to give effect to the said provision of law. The Authority may proceed to implement Section 26 of the Act of 1997 and make its determination. While making such determination, the Authority shall not be hampered by any Court, either by issuing of any injunctive order or issuing of any writ. The Authority, after making the determination, which it shall do within one month, will file a report before this Court,” he added.

The court observed that under Section 12A of the Act of 1997, the Federal Government was required to constitute an Appellate Tribunal (the Tribunal).

The court was informed that notification of constitution of the Tribunal had already been issued but members of the Tribunal had not been appointed yet.

The court directed the government to appoint the members within 10 days hereof and make the Tribunal functional and provide all necessary infrastructure for its immediate working.

Later, hearing of the case was adjourned for four weeks.

M M Alam

M. M. Alam is a Pakistan-based working journalist since 1981. Karachi University faculty gold medalist Alam began his career four decades ago by writing for Dawn, Pakistan’s highest circulating English daily. He has worked for region’s leading publications, global aviation periodicals including Rotors (of USA) and vetted New York Times as permanent employee of daily Express Tribune. Alam regularly covers international aviation and defense-related events including Salon Du Bourget (France), Farnborough (United Kingdom), Dubai (UAE). Alam has reported thousands of events and interviewed hundreds of people in Pakistan, UAE, EU, UK and USA. Being Francophone Alam also coordinates with a number of French publications.