ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Energy and its companies were severely criticized on Wednesday by the ruling party and opposition lawmakers for alleged corruption, mismanagement and lack of progress in development activities in the electricity sector.
While members of the Pakistan-Nawaz Muslim League opposition left a meeting of the National Assembly Standing Energy Committee in protest, claiming that the Tehreek-i-Insaf Pakistan government had halted development schemes in advanced stages of completion, PTI lawmakers, including former finance minister Asad Umar, threatened to revive his party's tradition of celebrating a dharna (sitting) outside parliament due to the lack of supply of electrical connections.
Several members of the opposition and the ruling party also alleged massive corruption in distribution companies regarding defective transformer replacement.
The meeting was chaired by Imran Khattak of the PTI.
Energy Minister Omar Ayub Khan and Energy Secretary Irfan Ali admitted that they were fighting the transforming mafia in distribution companies and promised to reform the sector to address these challenges.
PML-N legislators leave the NA panel meeting; PTI members threaten to sit due to lack of supply of electrical connections
PML-N lawmakers left the committee at first while criticizing the government for not issuing work orders and releasing funds for several approved development schemes carried out by the previous government. They said it was approved schemes, but the PTI was deliberately withholding its funds in the constituencies where the PMLN members won the elections.
Murtaza Javed Abbasi, Barjees Tahir, Riaz Hussain Pirzada and Khurram Dastagir of the PML-N told the committee that these were not personal PTI funds, regretting that the PTI was not setting a good precedent.
Asad Umar reminded them that an MNA from Islamabad had received Rs55 billion for development schemes in the last five years, but he (Mr. Umar) could not secure a penny for his constituency. He said it was a routine norm and that no one should worry about it.
Shazia Marri, of the People's Party of Pakistan, said that the genuine concerns of opposition MNAs should be addressed.
Umar Ayub assured the committee that all ongoing projects would be completed.
The chairman of the committee, Khattak, said he would make a decision on the delay in the implementation of the development schemes of opposition members.
Islamabad MNA NAPs protested the non-emission of electricity and gas meters in the Islamabad Capital Territory without any legal support. Asad Umar said public utilities were not providing connections by order of the Capital Development Authority. “CDA is not your regulator. Nepra [National Electric Power Regulatory Authority] He had issued written guidelines following the orders of the Supreme Court to provide connections, "he said, adding that the Ministry of Power had promised to convene a meeting on the subject, but failed to fulfill its commitment despite its 12 attempts.
The former finance minister said that along with Ali Nawaz Awan and Khurram Shahazad (Islamabad MNA) they would hold a dharna outside parliament on Monday. He said the electricity company was not ready to provide connection through legal means and that it was hiding behind the CDA because they charged fixed amounts from consumers to provide meters. He challenged the minister of power to appoint a consumer of his choice and would obtain a connection by illegal means.
Minister Omar Ayub convinced them to hold a meeting with him on Monday to solve the problem.
The PTI legislator, Noor Alam Khan, expressed reservations about the lack of availability of the federal energy minister and said there was a massive charge in the Peshawar area, but despite being an MNA ruling party, he could not contact the minister . He said politicians were abused, but in fact the officials of the Ministry of Power and distribution companies were involved in corruption and theft of power.
Not only Noor Alam, but also other members, including Junaid Akbar and Shazia Marri, said distribution companies were forcing consumers to contribute money to replace or repair transformers. They said that, like MNA, they were forced to provide Rs30,000 to Rs60,000 from their pockets to repair transformers in their constituencies.
Omar Ayub said its doors were always open for parliamentarians, including those of the opposition. He said that fundraising of energy consumers by staff was totally illegal, pure corruption and, therefore, unacceptable. He asked MNAs to provide evidence so that proceedings can be initiated in such cases.
The minister said there were three main loss areas in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – D.I. Khan, Bannu and Peshawar, and admitted that there were some black sheep in the system, but measures were being taken to eliminate them. He said the theft of electricity had been significantly reduced in the country and that 80 percent of the feeders had been eliminated from the discharge of cargo as a result. Officials who receive bribes for changing transformers would receive exemplary penalties, he added.
The committee expressed dissatisfaction with information from the K-Electric authorities about the deaths caused by electrocution during the recent torrential rain in Karachi and asked the president of Nepra to submit a detailed report on the matter.
The head of K-Electric, Moonis Alvi, said a total of 33 deaths had been reported, including 11 inside the homes due to internal wiring failures and 18 due to the Kunda cable network or TV. He said the Karachi sewer system was also a factor in this regard. He said Nepra was conducting an investigation into the matter, while the utility company was also conducting an internal consultation.
Published on Dawn, August 29, 2019