Large parts of country hit by power cut

Minister for power orders probe into the breakdown

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Staff Report

ISLAMABAD

A power cut hit large part the country on Wednesday, suspending work at factories and businesses industrial heartland and highlighting the challenges successive governments have faced in getting to grips with chronic power shortages.

Minister for Power Awais Ahmed Khan Leghari took notice of the incident and ordered a probe to establish the causes of the breakdown.

Islamabad Electric Supply Company (Iesco) officials said that the breakdown occurred after Tarbela, Mangla and Ghazi Barotha simultaneously tripped due to faults in the main transmission line.

The Iesco official explained that the National Transmission and Despatch Company’s (NTDC) 500KV main transmission line had developed some faults due to which power supply from five distribution companies (Discos) in the north had been disrupted.

Four nuclear power plants at Chashma had also tripped due to tripping of main transmission line of Tarbela.

Attempts were made to restore the Iesco and succeeded 60 to 70 per cent, the Iesco official said, but then Mangla was energised and suspended again.

Zafar Yab Khan, a spokesperson for the ministry of energy, said, “Due to tripping of a major plant, the north system is off,” Khan said.

He said the cause was not known but was being investigated.

Khan said the problem affected Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab.

Lahore, was among the major cities affected. The power was also out in the national capital, Islamabad.

The south system is working and there is no supply failure to Sindh and Balochistan.

A spokesman of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) said that they would be re-connected to the national grid once fault in main transmission line is rectified, and that nuclear power plants take several hours to resume operation once they trip.

Media showed pictures of people sweltering at the hottest time of the year in markets and offices.

The power cut could play into politics in the run-up to a general election, expected in July, given that the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), had made ending power blackouts a central promise in its last election campaign.

The ruling party won the last election, in 2013, vowing to end power outages before the next polls.

Power cuts and scheduled outages, known as load shedding, in urban areas have been sharply reduced from about 12 hours a day previously to only occasional outages now. Additional Input from Abbas Shahid, Reuters

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