Energy Crisis in Pakistan
Causes and Remedies
Energy crisis has been a widely-debated topic in Pakistan. Throughout the country’s history, both military and civilian governments came to power; but unsurprisingly, through polarized politics, national policy framework failure, entrenched inefficiencies related to production and distribution of power. They failed miserably to fulfil their constitutional duties. They did not feel duty-bound to view it as an existential problem that had drastic effects on the economy and socio-cultural fabric of the country. Amidst a burgeoning population and a growing national demand for electricity, Pakistan seems to have been trapped into an unprecedented energy crisis, thereby resulting into economy taking a nosedive, industrial sector going to the dogs and educational development at low ebb.
Although the PML(N) government sought to undo these effects on economy through building new power projects, PTI-led incumbent government has failed to pay the attention required to boosting up the energy sector of Pakistan. The policy focus of the PML(N) government on setting up energy projects based on renewable energy is worth praise. It not only tried to wean this sector from oil-fired power production but also shifted its policy focus on enlarging the generation capacity. In its tenure, it was able to deliver about 19000 MW to consumers in the third quarter of 2017.
There are multifaceted causes of energy crisis in Pakistan. One among the most prominent of them is the lack of robust national policy framework regarding the development of power projects and energy-generation capacity. The government’s inability to formulate such a framework and seek to implement it fully aggravates electricity woes, worsening the general circumstances for the masses whose daily lives depend on electricity. The government fails to produce electricity to fulfil the demand. It appears often that the government of Pakistan is least concerned about the crisis the country has landed into. Lack of vision and absence of effective management are the reasons why energy could not be generated and supplied properly. A better policy framework and the will to implement it in letter and spirit will be a great progress towards eliminating the crisis.
Another cause of this crisis is not modifying the old technology framework and capitalizing on natural resources of Pakistan. Technology is a fundamental requirement of almost every field and there is little possibility to work out best energy production policies without it. It emphasizes that policymakers must choose the projects that are more efficient and less expensive. Production of energy from solar and wind resources is the latest trend. Insofar as Pakistan is concerned, it hardly pays attention to establishing solar and wind energy plants, although they can boost our energy sector. Given the worrisome prospects of our national economy, it is not feasible to invest in oil-based thermal power generation which is used for less than 5% of the world’s total generation. Pakistan is rich in natural resources which, if utilized optimally, can generate electricity more than is required. Thousands of tons of coal present in Thar can help add to national energy production.
Fiscal constraints in the implementation process of robust policies is another major cause of the worsening energy crisis and it needs due attention. Budget is not properly allocated to adapt to modern technology, building energy reserves and launching projects based on modern technology to meet the demand. Moving towards launching solar energy projects and building small dams to store water, through which energy capacity can be increased, necessitates an increase in budgetary allocations. Ageing equipment that also results in the energy loss needs an immediate overhaul. For this equipment to remain efficient, handsome amount of funds must be invested so as to control transmission losses.
Moreover, the shortfall in the supply of electricity is a result of flawed, ineffective regulation and distribution of electricity. Unstructured distribution, transmission inefficiencies, growing line losses and unbridled power theft depict the dismal state of affairs on the part of the government. If the wastage of electricity is stopped, it can have positive benefits for the national exchequer. Power theft is the wastage of electricity and a major setback to the economy as well. To thwart it, accountability of the corrupt officials must be ensured so that proper functioning of electricity and conservation of energy could be ensured. The feeble policies of the government must also be replaced by the strict and strong ones.
As far as the wastage of energy is concerned, there is an acute carelessness of general masses. Not only the people from lower middle class are held responsible for wasting electricity, the people from the elite class are also involved in this practice. They don’t care about saving electricity as they have all resources at their disposal. Most of the energy is reportedly consumed by them. Besides this, there is a greater use of lights turned on 24/7 in the shopping malls, marriage banquets and restaurants. To this end, media is equally responsible for the ignorance of the masses regarding energy conservation. It fails to deliver on its responsibility to convince people to save energy by cutting down its inappropriate and unnecessary use. In essence, media can play an effective role in ensuring that people use electricity in a proper, responsible way.
To address the causes, and eradicate the effects of energy crisis, there are remedial measures that government can capitalize on. Though multifarious remedies exist, most important of them are to be deliberated on thoroughly. Policies of developed countries can be emulated after tailoring them to our indigenous requirements. Successive governments have failed to bring robust national policy framework and effect its implementation. But, this must change now.
The writer is a student of MA English Literature at Shah Abdul Latif University, Khairpur.