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ISLAMABAD:

 

The federal cabinet gave permission on Tuesday for making all the data of Toshakhana public and approved a nationwide public awareness drive for conservation of power, water, gas and other resources.

Chairing a cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif warned that any repeat of Monday’s power breakdown across the country would be unacceptable and ordered for the preparation of a comprehensive strategy to prevent major power supply disruptions in the future.

During the meeting, a comprehensive report based on the recommendations of the inter-ministerial committee formed regarding Toshakhana – the federal repository where gifts received by the country’s leadership during their foreign visits are stored – was presented to the federal cabinet.

The committee also presented the draft of a new policy of Toshakhana. The cabinet members presented their recommendations on the committee’s proposals and the new Toshakhana policy. The prime minister directed the committee to amend its report accordingly.

The cabinet expressed anger over Monday’s power breakdown. The prime minister stressed that action should be taken against those responsible. He ordered for the preparation of a comprehensive strategy to permanently remedy the factors that caused countrywide outages.

Shehbaz said that the inconvenience caused to the people by the power breakdown was unacceptable and any such happenings in the future would not be tolerated. He called for fixing responsibility of the power outage and instructed the authorities concerned to identify the factors behind it.

The cabinet meeting was informed that a committee formed by the prime minister on the power outage had started its investigation and it would furnish a comprehensive report after deliberating on all the factors.

The energy minister told the meeting that as per initial report, the power supply tripped at 7:34am on Monday, due to a technical fault – voltage fluctuation and frequency disruption. He added that all-out resources were used and power supply was restored to the major cities by 10pm.

The cabinet was further informed that all the 1112 grid stations were restored by 5am Tuesday. On the prime minister’s directives, the gas-powered power plants had been made operational to overcome the energy shortfall caused by the breakdown, the minister added.

However, the cabinet was told that the operations of nuclear and coal-based power plants would take another couple of days to restart as per standard operating procedures (SOPs), though the power generation from the rest of the power plants was in progress.

Meanwhile, the cabinet approved the first-of-its-kind nationwide public awareness campaign to promote the habit of conserving electricity, water, gas and other resources. The ministers called for including best international practices on energy conservation in the educational curriculum.

On the occasion, Information Minister Maryam Aurangzeb gave a briefing on the awareness drive, under which a comprehensive and long-term campaign was under way in the country. The campaign had been designed while keeping in view the latest trends and public’s interests.

Prior to the campaign, the information ministry conducted a comprehensive survey, whereby the opinion of the people from every sector, class and age was obtained. The campaign would focus on changing people’s habits, lifestyle, thinking and attitudes, the cabinet was informed.

The ministry would also seek the support from print, electronic and social media as well as the public opinion makers and experts for the awareness drive which would be run in collaboration with the public and private institutions.

The basic concept of this campaign was that every citizen would be made to realise that he should save electricity, gas and water, which will not only benefit him personally but also reduce the economic pressure on Pakistan as a whole.

The meeting was informed that due to continuous increase in the import of petroleum products, the import bill was increasing. In 2017, the ministers were informed, the import bill of petroleum products was 18% of the total imports but in 2022 the share had been increased to 29%.

The prime minister directed all the ministries to support the information ministry in this campaign. He also directed for taking the caretaker governments of Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa into confidence regarding the energy saving projects.

The cabinet meeting also endorsed the Economic Coordination Committee’s (ECC) decisions taken in its meetings of January 3 and 11, 2023, as well as Cabinet Committee for Disposal of Legislative Cases decisions taken on January 6, 2023.



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