GILGIT (ET): With the duration of power outages gradually increasing, people in Gilgit fear that the coming winter might be as worse as the last one.
Locals said they were facing around two hours of power outages a day, but with the start of October the loadshedding hours have doubled. “Power goes out for hours sometimes four times a day; if the situation is so bad in the early days of October, just imagine how bad it will be
in December and January,” said Mujahid, a resident of Gilgit.
Power outages in Gilgit intensified last year after the area’s main water reservoir developed fissures and the 18-megawatt Naltar hydropower station had to be shut down to repair the leakage. Power supply to Gilgit was suspended twice, for over one week each time, bringing life to a standstill.
Power production in Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) decrease during the winters as lakes freeze due to plummeting temperatures and there is not enough water flowing to keep all hydropower stations running. And with people spending more time indoors, power consumption goes up and adds to the shortage. Usually extended hours of outages in winter hit every sector hard, adding to the frustration of the people living in extreme cold.
According to official statistics, last winter power shortfall in G-B reached 132 megawatts, of which Gilgit alone accounted for 23 megawatts of shortage.
There are over 150,700 power consumers in G-B and around 400 new connections are issued every day, according to G-B Water and Power Minister Wazir Shakeel
The minister said that by 2015 around 120 megawatts will be added to the generation capacity of G-B, a region that is believed to have the potential to produce over 50,000 megawatts of electricity.
G-B Finance Minister Mohammad Ali Akhtar said that in view of the growing power requirements of residents, the government has allocated substantial amount of funds for power projects during the current fiscal year.
“I am sure the new projects will help overcoming the power crisis in G-B,” he added.