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Nepra to investigate countrywide power outage

Nepra to investigate countrywide power outage

ISLAMABAD: The Natio­nal Electric Power Regula­tory Authority (Nepra) on Monday decided to conduct an independent investigation into the countrywide power outage on Saturday night through private sector engineering experts.

In a statement, Nepra said it had taken serious notice of the recent nationwide power blackout and “decided to constitute a high-powered committee of top professionals from Nepra and renowned protection engineers from the private sector to ascertain the reasons and facts about this incident”. It said the committee would also be required to give recommendations to avoid such incidents in future.

It may be noted that the government has not ordered an investigation into the matter. However, the National Transmission & Despatch Company has constituted a four-member committee of its own officers to ascertain the reasons behind the cascading blackout throughout the country.

Separately, the regulator also imposed a fine of Rs13 million on the Peshawar Electric Supply Company (Pesco) for negligence resulting in fatal accidents during July-December 2019. An announcement said Nepra had received reports of 26 deaths due to electrocution during that period and constituted a two-member investigation committee under Section 27A of the Nepra Act, 1997.

The team was directed to visit the relevant areas, conduct investigation and ascertain facts and possible violations of Nepra laws, rules and regulations. The investigation committee’s report revealed that 14 out of total 26 fatalities occurred because of Pesco’s negligence.

Therefore, Nepra issued a show-cause notice to Pesco under Section 27B of the Nepra Act and later gave an opportunity of hearing to the company. Based on the evidence available on record, submissions of Pesco and relevant provisions of the laws, rules and regulations, the regulator concluded that Pesco had failed to discharge its statutory obligations to maintain safety standards as laid down in the relevant code and manual.

Moreover, Pesco also failed to report fatalities immediately to Nepra in a prescribed manner as envisaged under Nepra Performance Standards (Distribution) Rules, 2005. Therefore, the regulator imposed a fine of Rs13m on Pesco.

The company has also been directed “to compensate the bereaved families and that the details of such compensation shall be shared with Nepra in due course of time”.

Published in Dawn, January 12th, 2021

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