CPGC suspends seven officials, employees over power breakdown

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Central Power Generation Company Limited (CPGC) has suspended seven officials and employees after one of the worst electricity breakdowns in the country on Saturday night, on Monday.

All the major cities were plunged into darkness with millions of homes without electricity which was restored about 11 hours. The Central Power Generation Company Limited notified, “Following employees working under Plant Manager-III are hereby laced under suspension with immediate effect and until further orders, on account of the negligence of duty which caused power failure found in view of a preliminary inquiry.”

The suspended officials are Additional Plant Manager Sohail Ahmed, Junior Engineer Deedar Channa, Foreman Ali Hassan Golo, Ayyaz Hussain Dahar Operator, Saeed Ahmed Operator, Attendants Siraj Ahmed Memom and Ilyas Ahmed (attendant). It is pertinent to note that the authorities were able to restore the electricity supply to parts of the country on Sunday morning after a major fault at a thermal power plant caused the countrywide blackout.

Energy Minister Omar Ayub Khan said power supply across Pakistan was abruptly cut because of a fault at the Guddu thermal power plant, sending the entire country into darkness.  The blackout is one of the worst in the country’s history.

The electricity distribution system in a nation of more than 210 million people is a complex and delicate web, and a problem in one section of the grid can lead to cascading breakdowns countrywide.

The latest blackout, which lasted roughly 18 hours in most areas, was caused by “an engineering fault” in southern Pakistan at 11:41 pm local time on Saturday, which tripped the system and caused power plants to shut down, power minister Omar Ayub Khan told a press conference in Islamabad on Sunday.

A spokesman from the National Transmission and Despatch Company (NTDC) reported that “all 500KV and 200KV grid stations and transmission lines have started supplying electricity” and that “the power supply has been restored across Pakistan.” Jokes and memes flooded Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp, mostly ridiculing Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government and its performance after the breakdown.

“Power breakdown in Pakistan is blackmailing Imran Khan,” tweeted Musarrat Ahmedzeb in reference to the premier’s recent statement accusing Hazara protesters of blackmailing him after the killing of coalminers. “What a start for the new year… let us seek Allah the Almighty’s mercy,” read another tweet, while a message on WhatsApp said: “new Pakistan sleeps in a night mode”.

There were no immediate reports of disruption at hospitals, which often rely on backup generators. Netblocks, which monitors internet outages, said web connectivity in the country “collapsed” as a result of the blackout. Connectivity was at “62 percent of ordinary levels”, it said in a tweet.

The outage marked Pakistan’s second major power breakdown in less than three years. In May 2018, power was partially disrupted for more than nine hours. In 2015, an apparent militant attack on a key power line plunged around 80 percent of Pakistan into darkness.

That blackout, one of the worst in Pakistan’s history, caused electricity to be cut in major cities nationwide, including Islamabad, and even affected one of the country’s international airports.