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Opinion

April 11, 2015

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That time of the year

Good news everyone. We have a plan to fix the energy crisis. Once again. In the 12th meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Energy (CCE), bold measures were announced to tackle the power shortage that is likely to get worse during the summer months.
By enforcing early closure of shops, wedding halls and restaurants in Islamabad and Punjab with the directive for other provinces to follow suit, the government is well on its way to solving the energy crisis which, let us be very clear about this, was not its fault. This has often been said before but it is worth repeating because as we all know the most important thing when tackling a mammoth national crisis is assigning blame.
As far as policy announcements go, these austerity measures can’t even be called window dressing. It is an old idea that rears its head whenever various government committees knock their heads together to solve the electricity shortage problem and fail to come up with anything better. If no one is using electricity then surely there will be no shortage. Problem solved.
In theory it is a very good idea to save one’s resources in case of a shortage. It is the only rational idea in fact. And, given the chronic nature of our troubles, saving electricity should have become second nature for us by now. The problem, as always, lies with implementation.
Austerity drives can and do work very well but for that the implementation must be not only on easy targets, the people who must follow the rules or be penalised. Businesses have already been terribly affected by the shortage of electricity. Closing hour regulations are not likely to put them in a more cooperative mood as is obvious from the sentiments expressed by the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce. Businessmen in the city, already suffering due to the digging up of roads to make way for the metro-bus project are disgruntled by orders to close shops by 8pm.
It’s true that shops use up a lot of electricity. So do hospitals, schools,

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government office buildings, street lights and homes. That doesn’t mean that the government can place curfew times on all these places.
A much better way to go, one that should have been adopted years ago when the crisis first started, would be to develop a comprehensive plan to lower consumption by reducing wastage. Despite all the problems we face because of lack of electricity, we still do not have much regard for the preciousness of this resource. It is constantly being wasted through idly running appliances. We just look for cures like installing more and more generators which come with their own set of problems, rather than preventing the problem in the first place by being more prudent in the way we use electricity.
Rather than just implementing regulations during the summer the government needs to develop a year round austerity drive that we can all follow – one that is doable and has at least some measure of support by those it is going to be implemented on.
Pakistanis as a whole need to learn to take more responsibility for our problems. Successive governments have been unable to solve the energy crisis but it is not like we are helping much. This summer, when the designated loadshedding time ends and the power comes back on, maybe don’t turn on all the ACs, fans and lights immediately. We are citizens of a poor country in the middle of an economic struggle for survival. It’s about time we learned how to live here.
The writer is a businessstudies graduate fromsouthern Punjab.
Email: asna.ali90@ gmail.com

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