“I am unable to attend online classes and will not be promoted to next semester due to overload shedding in my village.” Ilyas Kakar, a young Urdu writer and a Bachelors student from Pishin, says as he complains about load-shedding in his locality. Load-shedding a longstanding issue in Pakistan and especially, Balochistan has made it difficult for residents to function normally, especially during the summers. The situation seems to have deteriorated over time with no real relief in sight.
Balochistan particularly remains a victim of electricity load-shedding. It is to the extent that areas in Kharan, Awaran and Sherani receive only two hours of power supply in 24 hours. The government seems to be ignorant about solving the issue and the Quetta Electricity Supply Company (QESCO) is also making no efforts in this regard.
“Life is becoming difficult day by day, the government isn’t taking practical steps to solve overload shedding in our area”, Amir Bugti, a resident of Dera Bugti says. Record-breaking rises in temperature and an added power crisis have also affected the health of residents in Naseerabad, Jaffarabad, and Sibi.
According to the Pakistan Economic survey 2019-20, an electricity generation capacity of 37,402 Mega Watts (MW) was installed in 2020. Balochistan, being the largest province area-wise, requires a total of 1,650 MW electricity. Unfortunately, it receives only 300-400 MW, which proves to be the main reason for continued load-shedding in the more remote areas of the province.
According to a report by QESCO, a large portion of the population failed to pay their electricity bills and the total unpaid dues added up to Rs 130 Billion in the year 2019. The huge number of unpaid bills remains a cause of power shortage in the province. However, provinces like Punjab and Sindh also face the issue of unpaid bills but their power supply has increased rather than being decreased.
Unequal distribution of resources and power supply from the federal government also contributes to the energy crisis in the country. Balochistan, with 5% of the country’s population still lags behind other provinces in terms of electricity production and provision. Even though it only has one industrial zone near Karachi i.e Hub while other provinces have multiple macro industrial zones but receive more power than Balochistan.
People have protested the issue time and again. They’ve blocked roads, burnt tires, and raised slogans against the Federal and Provincial governments on various occasions. Unfortunately, the issue remains unresolved and the provincial government has asked the Center and other Provincial governments for support multiple times.
Right now Lasbela, the hometown of Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan receives power supply from Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) while Mashkel and a few other areas of the Makran belt receive electricity from Iran. Though Balochistan gets assistance from other provinces as well as Iran, there is still a dire need for power.
The power production capacity can also be increased by harnessing nature and installing wind turbines near Ormara and other areas of the province. An average onshore wind turbine with a capacity of 2.5–3 MW can produce more than 6 million kWh in a year, enough to supply 1500 average EU households with electricity. An average offshore windmill of 3.6 MW can power more than 3,312 average EU households. Balochistan has a coastal belt of about 750 Kilometres, if windmills are installed at regular intervals in Ormara, Gwadar, and other coastal areas, the province will not be only self-sufficient in electricity provision but also be able to provide power to its other provinces.
It is a fact that a nation can only succeed if its government, as well as the masses, are supporting each other. Therefore to resolve the issue, the public, provincial government and, the federal government work together. The public should pay their bills and conserve electricity like we save water. Balochistan government must ask the federal government and other provincial governments assistance. QESCO should also take strict measures to stop power theft. They should work with the Balochistan government, and the Federal government to make a coordinated decision regarding the issue.