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Canal closure plan to test govt’s bid to reduce loadshedding

ISLAMABAD: The government’s plan to curtail electricity loadshedding this winter will be put to the test by the end of next month when power generation by hydropower units will be reduced drastically due to closure of canals.

The Indus River System Authority (Irsa) decided on Tuesday to close down canals for annual maintenance and de-silting between Dec 25 and Jan 31. The canal closure plan will reduce the output of hydropower units by more than 2,500MW, which translates into between two and four hours of loadshedding across the country.

At present, the hydropower generation can go up to about 4,000MW in peak hours. Its share in overall generation stood at about 33 per cent in October. The output of hydropower units is estimated to go down to about 1,000MW between Dec 26 and Jan 31 because of the lower demand for irrigation water in the provinces.

A power sector official said the government had made arrangements for greater utilisation of the furnace oil-based power plants that have been kept closed in recent weeks because of lower demand even after doing away with loadshedding in the industrial sector and reducing outages for other consumers by half.

“Our top priority during the canal closure period will be to ensure predictable loadshedding where necessary, with prior announcement of schedules without allowing costs to go out of control,” the official said.

He said that about 760,000 tonnes of furnace oil currently stored at various depots would be enough to meet demand for the fuel for 27 days. Another 205,000 tonnes would be released from the ports soon.

Under its water discharge plan for the Dec 25-Jan 31 period, the Irsa would release 10,000-12,000 cusecs of water from Tarbela dam and 8,000 cusecs from Mangla dam to meet the drinking water requirements.

The regulator said the total amount of water in the various reservoirs currently stood at about 4.7MAF but the inflows had drastically come down recently. This included about 2.12MAF at Tarbela dam, 2.43MAF at Mangla dam and 0.155MAF at the Chashma barrage. Under the canal closure plan, Pun­jab’s Lower Jhelum canal will remain closed from Dec 26 to Jan 12 and the Thall canal from Jan 13 to Jan 30.

The canals from head Trimmu will remain closed between Jan 10 and Jan 27 and the Sidhnai canal from Jan 11 to Jan 28. The SMB canal will remain closed from Jan 11 to Jan 28 and the Lower Pakpattan canal from Jan 12 to Jan 29.

The canals from Panjnad will be closed between Jan 3 and Jan 20 and from Taunsa between Dec 31 and Jan 17.

The Kotri barrage will remain closed from Dec 26 to Jan 10 and Sukkur barrage between Jan 6 and Jan 24.

During this period, canals for Balochistan will also remain closed. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Chashma Right Bank Canal will remain closed from Jan 1 to Jan 31.

The Lower Jhelum canal and the Rasul-Qadirabad and Qadirabad-Balloki canals will be kept closed from Dec 26 to Jan 12 while Lower Bari Doab and Balloki-Sulemanki link canal will remain closed from Dec 29 to Jan 15.

Likewise, the Upper Pakpattan and Eastern Sadiqia canals will be kept closed between Dec 30 and Jan 16.

Courtesy : Dawn News



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