Plea against surprise outages: Rs16bn arrears paid to IPPs, Centre tells LHC

LAHORE, Sept 12: The federal government told the Lahore High Court on Wednesday that Rs16 billion arrears had been paid to Independent Power Producers (IPPs) while regular payments were also being made to such units to produce electricity according to their capacity.

The government stated this in a written reply submitted through Advocate Khwaja Tariq Rahim in response to a petition filed by the Judicial Activism Panel against unannounced electricity loadshedding and seeking disclosure of the cost of power production and subsequent earning.

The petition was pending since month of Ramazan when the petitioner had also challenged loadshedding during Sehr, Iftar and prayers (Taraveeh) timings. Exemption from loadshedding given to VVIPs premises and some elite housing societies was also challenged in the petition.

The government said previously the IPPs were not being paid their dues but now their overdue payments had been released to them in, addition to regular payment, under the head of Capacity Purchase Price (CCP) and Energy Price Purchase (EPP).

It said the schedule of payments from July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012 showed that IPPs had been paid from 85 per cent to 100 per cent of their billing, strictly in accordance with the Power Purchase Agreement.

The government stated that in respect of line losses the distribution companies (DISCOs) had been strictly directed to prevent and control the theft of energy. The federal cabinet recently approved legislation which provided for strict punitive measures, including enhanced sentence for power theft, the reply added. To a point raised by the petitioner that KESC (Karachi Electric Supply Company) was exempted from loadshedding, the government said energy being supplied to company was governed by an agreement between National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC) and the KESC. Moreover, it said, a committee constituted by Council of Common Interests (CCI) in its recent meeting debated the supply to KESC and its decision would be implemented.

Mr Rahim also presented a reply on behalf of water and power ministry, NTDC, CPPA and NPCC.

After going through the replies, Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial observed it appeared that the government had the capacity to produce the required electricity but funds were not issued to the power production companies.

The chief justice also asked the government’s counsel that whether the consumers paying bills regularly should not be supplied uninterrupted electricity. He pointed out that even many areas where bill recovery was up to 90 per cent had been facing more loadshedding than the areas where the recovery ratio was only up to 10 per cent.

Justice Bandial remarked the government should not shift the burden of low recovery and power theft to whole nation.

Petitioner’s counsel Advocate Azhar Siddique told the court that Bahria Town housing society in Lahore and Rawalpindi and the City housing society, Gujranwala, were still enjoying exemption from loadshedding. He said these housing societies were boldly mentioning in their media advertisements that 24-hour uninterrupted power supply was available for the residents.

The chief justice expressed dissatisfaction over the replies submitted by the respondents and directed them to come up with detailed replies on next date of hearing that is Oct 11.