The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) has said the K-Electric – the private power distribution company that supplies electricity to Karachi – has installed ‘dynamites’ in the city in the name of improving its distribution network.
“The K-Electric invested billions of rupees in wiring systems but still people are dying from its short circuits. It has installed dynamites in Karachi in the name improving system,” Nepra Chairman Tauseef H Farooqi told the Senate Standing Committee on Cabinet Secretariat on Thursday.
The committee was discussing the deaths – around 35 in number – caused during the recent rains in Karachi due to electrocution. Nepra chairman told the panel that the K-Electric was warned against any negligence with regard to its distribution network.
“Nepra has never taken K-Electric to task in the past but now we have served it with a show-cause notice,” Farooqi said. The committee chairman, Senator Talha Mehmood, took strong exception to the absence of K-Electric chairman and warned that he could be brought before the panel in handcuffs.
The members demanded that K-Electric be held accountable for deaths caused due to its negligence. It also demanded details of all the show cause notices Nepra sent to K-Electric over the past ten years.
The chairman called for a review of K-Electric’s license, warning that the committee will ensure that K-Electric is sent packing if it does not mend its ways. It also directed Nepra to submit a copy of the reply it received from the K-Electric.
The Thursday session also reviewed the proposal for establishing the Engineering Services for Pakistan to address the professional needs of civil engineers. The Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC) chairman said there is a need to set up an engineering cadre for various ministries and departments.
“The country does not have engineers in grade-21 and grade-22 so who is supposed to make decisions regarding engineering works?” he questioned, urging the authorities to empower the engineering officers for better decisions.
Senator Rukhsana Zuberi said the K-Electric has 13 directors but none of them is an electrical engineer. “There is no harm in setting up engineering cadre given the need of the hour,” she said.
Federal Minister Azam Swati said a decision in this regard is taken based on recommendations of a committee head by Dr Ishrat Hussain. However, the committee members opposed the proposal while recommending the establishment of an engineering cadre.
The committee also discussed the issues related to the Civil Superior Services (CSS) exams.
Swati said there is a need to introduce a screening test before formal intake for the CSS exams as it would help in shortlisting only the most intelligent candidates. Senator Javed Abbasi termed screening test as inappropriate, saying it would make it difficult for students to pass the exam.
The Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC) chairman advocated screening tests for the CSS. The committee chairman said there is a need to reduce the length of time needed for the CSS exams and interviews. The committee agreed that the duration of the CSS exams must be reduced as per need.
Senator Shibli Faraz presented a bill proposing an amendment in Nepra Act.
According to the amendment, an acting chairman would be appointed within seven days, in case of absence of its chairman. Swati maintained that he had no objection to the bill if the committee approved it. The committee passed the amendment bill with consensus.