Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Loadshedding in industrial areas: massive closure of industries feared

Loadshedding in industrial areas: massive closure of industries feared

The industrialists have feared massive closure of industries in Karachi if Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) continued the 16 hours load shedding to industrial areas, which will not only result in mass scale unemployment but also failure in delivery of export orders.
The load shedding has created enormous problems for industries to keep the their commitment regarding exports orders, they added. The industrialists expressed the fear that if they once lost their hard-earned export markets the competitors would replace them forever.
Gas supply to the power utility was suspended on Sunday afternoon completely by Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) that caused huge shortfall in power generation. Due to the suspension of gas supply, the utility had to shift to furnace oil for power generation.

However, all its generation plants could not be run on furnace oil, as most of the units are gas-fired. Consequently, the utility has been compelled to resort to load shedding in industrial areas for about 16 hours daily. Industrialists said that the massive load shedding by KESC would result in closure of many industries, while production in many factories would be badly affected due to which they would not be able to pay the bills to any of the utilities.

They said that small industries usually run during daytime but due to 16-hour load shedding these were now forced to cut their production. They feared that the alarming situation might lead to collapse of industries in Karachi. Vice Chairman, KATI, Javed Qureshi said that power supply to industrial areas was discontinued at 6:00pm on Sunday and it was restored at 10:00am on Monday. Criticising KESC, he said that the utility was resorting to 4-hours load shedding after every four hours.

He said once a units went off it took almost half-hour to restart production. No units can operate in such a situation, he added. Chairman Federal B. Area Association of Trade and Industry (FBAATI), Mohammad Irfan said that KESC had not issued any schedule or power shut down notice regarding the load shedding in industrial areas. However, almost 10 hours load shedding was carried out in F. B Industrial area on Monday with a hint that the duration might be increased on Tuesday.

Referring to the contract of KESC with consumers for power supply, he said that under the contract KESC was bound to supply uninterrupted power to its consumers. He said that more than 99 percent industries were paying KESC bills on time and KESC was duty bound to provide uninterrupted electricity to them.
He said the SSGC and KESC should approach the government to settle their issue and government should direct KESC to ensure electricity supply to its consumers, whether its is using oil and gas for power generation. Chairman, Pakistan Tanners Association (S.Z) Aziz Ahmed said that the tanneries had to face massive loss of production due to the massive load shedding.

He said as the industry was in mid of peak leather processing season after Eidul Azha, if the load shedding was not stopped, the industry would suffer losses to the tune of billions of rupees. He said that a major part of the leather industry of Pakistan was located in Karachi, wherein about 70 percent of the exportable commodity of finished leather was processed from raw hides and skins.

The uninterrupted electricity supply was necessary for processing of leathers and if the massive load shedding was continued with the leather industry of the city would ruin. Chairman, Site Association of Industry (SAI), Abdul Wahab Lakhani in a statement criticised the power utility for restoring to massive load shedding in industrial areas.

600 industrial units remain closed for fourth consecutive day

More than 600 industrial units remained closed on fourth consecutive day on Monday and industrialists fear that the ongoing gas schedule would continue till Wednesday (tomorrow) due to drastic drop of gas pressure. In Faisalabad region, a large number of CNG station also remained closed on second consecutive day after concluding of two days (Friday and Saturday) gas loadshedding due to low gas pressure.
Furthermore, hundreds of industrial workers took out protest procession against growing unemployment and prolonged gas and electricity loadshedding, which is disturbing their lives. Protesters blocked the traffic on by-pass Jhang road for several hours. The major protest rally of labour union was taken out from Sidhar and all processions gathered at by-pass Chowk on Jhang road.

Addressing the protest rally, the labour leaders demanded of that the government to end gas and electricity loadshedding. All cases against more than 162 industrial workers registered at Thikrewala police station should be withdrawn immediately as per promises made by the district administration to end tension between industrialists and labourers, they added.

Talking to newsmen, Chaudhry Salamat Ali, Chairman, Pakistan Hosiery Manufacturers & Exporters Association (PHMEA) North Zone expressed grave concern over the severe and prolonged gas loadshedding and said that the closures of the textile units were facing severe financial crunch, while the federal government did not fulfil its single commitment it made with the industrialists.

Industrialists expressed apprehension saying that SNGPL was planning to extend duration of gas loadhedding schedule upto January 12, six days off in a week, which was a serious step against the industrialisation of Punjab. Machinery of billion of rupees converting into scrape due to mysterious conspiracy against Punjab, where export oriented and labour intensive textile industry was closing permanently and unemployment was spreading.
He also expressed grave concern over power outages, which is adding fuel to fire. The chairman PHMEA said that Punjab government should resolve this matter on priority basis as it was included in their "Ultimatum" for saving the Punjab industrial sector. He said that the new unseen gas suspension plan of SNGPL would have a very negative impact on textile industry as well as national economy.

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