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Power transmission system running on verbal instructions, probe reveals

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  • Electric power transmission system is found “highly vulnerable”.
  • Inquiry committee saved necks of top notches in the system.
  • Country experienced countrywide power breakdown on Jan 23, 2023.

ISLAMABAD: The country’s power transmission system is being run on verbal instructions as there is no proper standard operating procedures (SOPs) in place, according to an investigation report of the last year’s countrywide power breakdown.

The electric power transmission system that transmits electricity of Rs3,000 billion a year is found “highly vulnerable” in the report on the 20-hour power outage that hit the nation on January 23, 2023.

But, the inquiry committee has interestingly saved the necks of top notches in the system and held responsible three junior officers for the power breakdown that had caused a colossal loss of over Rs80 billion.

The junior officials, including two deputy managers, one shift in-charge, and one manager of the National Power Control Centre (NPCC) have been made scapegoats. However, Zain Ali, Deputy Managing Director (DMD) of the National Power Control System, has resigned to save his skin.

When the power breakdown hit the country, the federal cabinet took stern cognizance and asked for stern action against those responsible.

The country experienced a countrywide power breakdown on January 23, 2023, and it took approximately 20 hours to fully restore the power throughout the NTDC’s network.

A four-member committee comprising Qaiser Khan, deputy managing director (P&E) NTDC, Munawar Hussain, general manager (PA) NTDC, Taqi-Ud-Din, chief engineer (Substation Design) NTDC, Husnain Arshad, Manager (C&RA) o/o CLO NTDC was constituted.

The Board of Directors also conveyed to the said four-member committee to conduct inquiry proceedings against the officers that include Ateeq Ahmed, Assistant Manager/Shift Engineer, Mubashar Hussain, Deputy Manager/Shift Supervisor, Farooq Jan, Deputy Manager/Shift Co-Supervisor, Palwasha Khan, Deputy Manager (Shutdown) and Aijaz Ali, Chief Engineer (Network Operation)/Manager Power Control.

As per the rules, summons were issued to the accused officers on December 21, 2023 with the instructions to appear before the committee on December 26, 2023 to proceed in accordance with Rule-6 of the Rules.

As a result, three of the accused officers, appeared in person before the inquiry committee on December 26, 2023, whereas the remaining accused officers mentioned appeared before the committee online through a video link on December 27, 2023.

The committee conducted inquiry proceedings against the officers, held responsible/partly responsible in the earlier report provided to this committee along with the office order and the observations along with recommendations of the committee that include Ateeq Ahmed, Assistant Manager/Shift Engineer, the accused appeared before the inquiry committee on December 26, 2023 for a personal hearing.

The committee has perused the charge sheet/statement of allegations, his written reply, and his re-affirmation of defense reply during personal hearing, and has observed that as per the inquiry report, the officer was responsible to oversee 220 and 500kV transmission network operations, and he had to inform his seniors about the open position of 500kV Moro-Rahim Yar Khan transmission line in the morning for an appropriate action.

However, the committee has concluded that the status of aforesaid 500kV Moro-Rahim Yar Khan transmission line was well within the knowledge of his seniors.

Regarding system studies and their implementation regarding transmission line load ability/stability limits under various network operating conditions, the instructions should have been from the shift supervisor to the shift engineer.

Moreover, his statement that no SOP was conveyed to him, the same was endorsed by the earlier inquiry committee constituted by BoD NTDC. The report says on page 16 that since he was an operator acting on the instructions of the shift supervisor, hence, he may not be held responsible. The committee is of the view that he may not be held responsible.

Mubashar Hussain, Deputy Manager/Shift Supervisor, the accused appeared before the inquiry committee on December 26, 2023 for a personal hearing. He has acknowledged that the system was weak with the outage of 500kV Jamshoro-Dadu transmission line.

He further stated that no SOP relating to transmission line loading and switching exists, and every such decision rests with the on-duty shift supervisor, yet, he was unaware about load ability and stability limits. In the capacity of shift supervisor, such documents/instructions should have been acquired by him. Moreover, before the injection of wind power, he should have considered the scenario that 500 kV Moro-Rahim Yar Khan transmission line was in open position.

In view of the foregoing, the committee agrees to the conclusion of earlier inquiry committee that the officer may be held responsible.

Farooq Jan, Deputy Manager/Shift Co-Supervisor, the accused appeared before the inquiry committee on December 26, 2023 for a personal hearing. The officer admitted that power flow in the AC corridor was to be limited as per PMLTC studies and his step of reducing the power flow in the AC corridor in the first half of the night from 1,700 MW to 1,100 MW and corresponding increase in HVDC system from 1,200 MW to 1,700 MW substantiates that awareness of balancing the power flow in AC/DC corridor was there. This means that the finding of the referred inquiry report about his inaction, is partly wrong as he did take corrective measures in the first part of the shift. However, in the morning operations, his contribution was not seen.

In view of the foregoing, this inquiry committee agrees to the conclusion of earlier inquiry committee that the officer may be held partly responsible.

Palwasha Khan, Deputy Manager (Shutdown), the accused appeared before the inquiry committee on December 27, 2023 for a personal hearing through video link as requested by her. An additional written reply was also submitted by the officer to the inquiry committee.

After the perusal of the charge sheet/statement of allegations and her replies, it is the assessment of this committee that the requirements of defining load ability limits in the event of outage was not her responsibility. Further, she was not linked with instant power flow conditions. The inquiry committee does not agree to the conclusion of earlier inquiry committee and is of the view that she may not be held responsible.

Aijaz Ali, Chief Engineer (Network Operation)/Manager Power Control), appeared before the inquiry committee as accused on December 27, 2023 for personal hearing through video link. After perusal of the charge sheet/statement of allegations, his written reply and re-affirmation of his reply during personal hearing, the committee has observed that he was responsible for all network operations being Chief Engineer (Network Operation) and Manger Power Control. It was his responsibility to prepare the indicated operation schedule, taking into account system constraints and associated dispatched operations keeping in view the economic merit order.

The information regarding load ability and stability had to be disseminated by his office to the lower office after getting it from Chief Engineer (Operational Planning).

The reply submitted by him does not satisfy the core issue of operational error of non-closure of the 500 KV Moro-Rahim Yar Khan transmission line and subsequent over-loading on the rest of the AC corridor.

The committee agrees to the conclusion of the earlier inquiry committee that he may be held responsible.

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April FDI in Pakistan increased to $358.8 million, according to SBP

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The inflow for April was $358.8 million, up 177% from $132 million in April FY23. Still, that was 39% more than the $258 million from March.

China was the largest investor, with $439.3 million in FDI from the nation between July and April of FY24—the greatest amount—as opposed to $604 million during the same period of FY23. In April, China accounted for $177 million of the total investment.

With $51.93 and 51.89 million invested in Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates and Canada came in second and third, respectively.

The power industry was the main draw for foreign investors in FY24, which ran from July to April. This period’s FDI in the power industry was $637.5 million, compared to $776.2 million the previous year. From $338 million to $460 million this year, Hydel Power garnered more attention.

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The size of the national economy grew from $341 billion to $375 billion in the current fiscal year, according to figures made public by PBS.

Throughout this fiscal year, Pakistanis’ yearly per capita income increased by Rs 90,534; the monthly rise was Rs 7,544.

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OGRA forbids the purchase or sale of inferior LPG cylinders.

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The 313 LPG marketing and 19 cylinder-producing companies received notices from the OGRA, which described the act of refilling inferior LPGO cylinders as harmful.

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Additionally, the warning said that the decision was made in an effort to preserve both lives and the business in response to an increase in cylinder blast occurrences.

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There is a reduction of Rs 20 on LPG prices, which means that the price per kilogramme drops from Rs 280 to Rs 260.

The costs of LPG were reduced by Rs 20 per kilogramme earlier, bringing the total decrease to Rs 40 per kilogramme over a few weeks. This is something worth noticing.

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According to an airline spokesman, the national flag carrier has recently raised the baggage allowance to 60 kg.

Currently, PIA flies one flight per week on Sundays between Islamabad and Beijing.

The discount may be useful to students who intend to spend their summer vacations in Pakistan or who wish to return home after earning their degrees.

Before, students who wanted to visit China could now receive a 27% reduction on their fares through PIA.

On Eid ul Fitr, the national flag airline also reduced the cost of domestic flights by 20% for both economy and executive economy classes.

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