Minister for Water and Power, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, announced a good power management programme by advancing the clocks by one hour.
Firstly, being a matter affecting the common man, should be put up for approval to the peoples representatives comprising at least the Parliament.
The system, however, is suited to the developed world because all of their systems, including salaries / wages payment, are computerised. If they change working time, they will have to make changes in all the computer programmes which is a cumbersome and time-consuming exercise and prone to accounting errors. For them therefore, it is better to change the clocks.
No other country neighbouring Pakistan has adopted this so-called light-saving-system. Also our problem is not light saving but electrical power shortage and it should be dealt as such.
In a country like ours, having only around thirty percent literate people that also including persons who can only read and write their names, advancing and retreating of clocks will be a failure.
Eight years back it was tried with great pomp and show and was a total flop. Again it was tried last year by the present government and it could not fully implemented. However, the purpose can be achieved by the method which had been in practice in our country till early 1970s, that is, during summer, all institutions and offices should start and finish their work one hour earlier. For example, from 1st April to 31st September they should start work at 8 AM and from 1st October to 31st March from 9 AM, and all the shops and shopping plazas should close at 9 PM round the year.
It has, however, to be done under a duly enacted law as otherwise it will be a failure practically as had been happening during the past.
Further, all the factories should be encouraged to stagger their working timings so that the over all electricity consumption at any time reduces. This will even benefit the factories owners.
The claim of the worthy minister for water and power that a huge amount of electric power was saved is not based on facts as the reduction in consumption was due to large-scale shut-downs (load-shedding) and not due to change in timings.
The environment aspect has totally been ignored. During the load shedding period consumers use generator sets that mostly work on diesel and kerosene. The smoke emitted by these generators adds to the already excessive pollution. This warrants quickest possible means for generating more electricity.
Thus, for immediate relief,
The first step should be to stop “Kunda System”, that is, supply of electrical power bypassing the energy meter even if Army has to be called in for action. Only in Karachi electricity is being pilfered at a colossal rate. line-man in Karachi openly offers to bypass energy meter of a house or shop if he is paid Rs 1,500. This disease is present all over the country and has not attacked only low-income people but even many among the very rich have their major power consuming apparatus directly connected to the supply lines bypassing the energy meter.
The second step should be lowering of the exorbitant limits of free electric power allowed to all WAPDA employees, ministers, secretaries and other high officials. Who are even otherwise being paid sufficiently high emoluments.
Third step, instead of going for gigantic projects, electricity production from medium and small water turbine projects should be established which will involve much lower cost and will have short completion period. Even projects as small as the one in Shadiwal near Gujrat can be taken up. This can be done along Indus starting from high mountains to the plain area putting up a medium or small power station after every 20 to 30 kimeters.