Gilgit-Baltistan: Daylong power breakdowns becoming commin in GB

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Gilgit:Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) is heading towards a dark winter, with daylong power breakdowns becoming common in most parts of the region.

“The power crisis is worsening with each passing day, with the city experiencing complete blackouts thrice a week, even on Sundays,” said Saifur Rehman, a resident of Gilgit.

The capital city of the mountain region was hit by the longest power cut on Sunday, when power was suspended for 20 hours continuously, bringing life to a complete standstill.

The practice has been going on for the past two months now. According to officials at the water and power department, power is suspended on Sundays due to ‘cleanliness and maintenance
work’; they blame water scarcity for power outages on other days.

The situation in other parts of the region, including Astore, Skardu, Ghizer and Hunza-Nagar valleys is similar to that in Gilgit, where 10 to 15 hours of power cuts are experienced regularly.

“This is just the beginning. [I fear] the worst is yet to come,” said Ghulam Ali, a local businessman referring to the winter season when the temperature drops to 12 to 18 degrees below freezing point, causing water channels and lakes to freeze.

According to official statistics, G-B has the potential to produce over 45,000 Megawatts of electricity. However, due to lack of investment in the power sector, people are suffering from severe form of loadshedding and increasingly depending on liquefied petroleum gas.

It has been observed that the period between November and May is the worst in G-B, with the region experiencing up to 22 hours of power outages due to frozen lakes.

The authorities have blamed lack of funds and water shortage for the situation. However, according to local people, corruption and inefficiencies in the power department are the main reasons behind prolonged power cuts.

“The consumption increases manifold due to cold weather in winters, while the production decreases owing to shortage of water,” said G-B Minister for Water and Power Naseer Khan.

Courtesy: The Express Tribune

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