- A detailed evaluation of causes, impacts and its remedies
“There is no energy crisis, only a crisis of ignorance”
Energy is defined as the capacity or ability of a system to do work. In simple words, it can be best described as the ability to work. During the day, sun gives out light and heat energy, whereas during the evening or night, street lights are the light givers. The food that people eat gives energy too. Human beings use that energy to do work and play. When a car drives by, it is powered by gasoline, which is also one of the types of energy. Energy can be found in many forms such as light energy, wind energy, heat energy, mechanical energy, chemical energy, physical energy, atomic or nuclear energy and expected to get more. These forms of energy can be transformed and transmitted with one another.
Energy crisis is considered as the major issue confronted by Pakistan. Undoubtedly, every country is facing energy crisis and hence it is an international issue, but Pakistan is witnessing unprecedented energy crisis. If energy crisis is not handled properly, it will cause server adverse impacts on the citizens, societies and economy of the country. It will also aggravate the situation and will jeopardize the lives of average people extremely. Therefore, it is needed to implement the remedial initiatives in order to hedge the looming crisis of energy, otherwise darkness will become the fate of the country. Then there will be no use of crying over spilt milk.
Every problem contains various reasons behind itself. Likewise, energy crisis is an issue and there are number of reasons and causes for energy crisis prevailing in Pakistan. One of the most prominent reasons of energy crisis is the poor policies of previous government to tackle energy crisis. Usage of energy is increasing rapidly day by day, but the production of energy remained stagnant in comparison with the use of energy. The government needs to tackle this problems as soon as possible, but it seems that energy production is categorically excluded from the priorities of the government. Ultimately, this ignorance along-with the poor policies result in energy crisis in Pakistan.
Another reason behind the looming energy crisis is the lack of consensus among the politicians to build new dams and water reservoirs. Pakistan has not built any water reservoir since 1960s, and this disunity among politicians and parliamentarians in terms of constructing new dams is further aggravating and exacerbating the situation. The parliamentarians are badly divided and they do not allow new dams to be constructed. Kalabagh dam is the best example in this regard. The politicians and parliamentarians say that this dam cannot be built until they are alive. However, if this dam is constructed, it will not only reduce the energy crisis, but also it will safeguard from the future floods. But unfortunately, the politicians are so disunited and badly divided that they don’t allow the construction of dams, and resultantly it causes energy crisis in the country.
In addition to it, Pakistan government is unable to collect the required funds to launch new power projects. The lack of required funds to launch new power projects is contributing a lot to the energy crisis. The economic condition of Pakistan is not up to the mark. And since the economic condition of Pakistan is not good, therefore, it is unable to acquire the funds for new power projects. Budget deficit also hinders in the collection of funds. According to Economic Survey of Pakistan, the Pakistan’s fiscal deficit is Rs.1.13 trillion in 2021. Because of high fiscal deficit, Pakistan is having problems to collect the specified amount of funds to start over new power projects. Because of all these factors, energy crisis in Pakistan is inevitable.
Another factor that contributes to the energy crisis in the less use of modern technology. It is clear that modern technology has become a dire need for making progress nowadays, but Pakistanis are not using advanced technological tools to get rid of this crisis. Pakistanis are not utilizing wind energy and solar energy. Only wind and solar energy is enough to reduce the crisis for approximately over 50 years. But in order to convert solar and wind into energy, advanced technological tools are needed to perform the functions of conversion. But Pakistan is not using advanced technological tools, and therefore, it results in energy crisis.
Flaws in the regulation and distribution of electricity also contributes to the energy crisis in Pakistan. Pakistan is already facing shortfall of electricity, and line losses and energy theft are further exacerbating the situation of Pakistan. This is done because of weak and imprudent regulation and distribution of electricity. Corrupt officers, line-men and meter readers abet general public in power theft. It results in economic loss to Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA), which ultimately leads to energy crisis.
Other reason that favors the looming energy crisis in Pakistan is the misuse of energy by common people. Energy is being used carelessly and badly by the citizens. They don’t realize the fact that if it continues like this, ultimately, whole of Pakistan will witness a large-scale darkness because of misuse of electricity. Pakistanis don’t even bother to turn off extra and unnecessary lights and fans. When they leave the rooms, they don’t turn off lights, fans, air conditioners and other electronic gadgets. During the day, lights on the main entrance gates are turned on, which is not needed at all. Electricity is also misused in different offices too. Decorative lights on the occasion of marriages and different festivals have become a fashion nowadays. Excessive amount of light energy is being misused in marriage halls because decorative lights consume a lot of energy. Because of all these factors, a large portion of energy is wasted and misused. It does not come under the usage of constructive works.
Another main factor that witness energy crisis is the inability of Pakistan to exploit natural resources. Pakistan is one of the poorest countries, but it is one of the richest countries in terms of natural resources such as coal, minerals, salt, water, wind, gas and many more. Despite the fact that Pakistan is having high intensity of natural resources, it is not using its full capacity to use those natural resources efficiently and effectively in order to mitigate the energy crisis. There are millions of tons of coal in Thar that can produce energy for approximately over 50 years. Coal is the best resource to create energy, but Pakistan is not using technology to convert into energy. Moreover, there is high intensity of wind and solar. If solar and wind energy is fully utilized, it can also create energy for approximately over 50 years. Another natural resource is gas. Pakistan has its own natural gas and it is easily found in Balochistan. If these natural resources are used efficiently and effectively, it will not only resolve the current issue of energy crisis, but also it will save the future of Pakistan from the energy crisis.
Weak role of media also contributes a lot to energy crisis. The role of media is to bring awareness among the masses to use electricity effectively, and not to misuse it. Unfortunately, media has failed to bring awareness among the masses to save energy for future. Another prime role of media is to expose corrupt officers, line-men and meter readers who abet general public in energy theft. Since the media has failed to fulfill its obligation as a responsible citizen of Pakistan, the energy theft is increasing day by day, and will ultimately lead to the shortage of electricity in the entire country.
Water nationalism also plays a very important role in the shortfall of energy in Pakistan. Water nationalism is a notion among the masses that if a dam or water reservoir is built in any province, it means the water belongs to that specific province only and not the other. For example, if a dam or water reservoir is built in Sindh, it means water of Sindh, and if a dam or water reservoir is built in Punjab, it means water of Punjab. The pseudo concept of water nationalism has engendered many daunting issues including water and energy crisis. This issue has resulted in the energy crisis and has affected badly.
Along with water nationalism, explosion of population also contributes to energy crisis in Pakistan. Undoubtedly, Pakistan is one of the poorest countries, but also it is one of the richest countries in population generating capabilities. The country’s current population stands at 220.9 million and it is still increasing at a speed of 2.4 per cent. This rapid increase in population means high-level consumption of energy. Since the population of Pakistan is increasing with the passage of time at an alarming rate, more and more energy is consumed and wasted too.
Apart from increasing population capabilities of Pakistan, the major cause of energy crisis is the theft of energy. Over 4,500 megawatts (MWs) of energy is stolen in 2014-2015, and there are over Rs.100 billion of unpaid bills in 2014-2015. Energy theft is a bad practice, which is very common in Pakistan. It will lead water and power development authority (WAPDA) to an economic loss. If the WAPDA is in loss, it cannot purchase energy for the country. Not only this, but also the citizens of Pakistan are not paying their bills, and there are approximately over Rs.100 billion of unpaid bills in 2014-2015. Already the circular debt is increasing time by time. In 2020-2021, the energy theft was Rs.2.327 trillion. Energy theft and unpaid bills are responsible for energy crisis.
In addition, circular debt of Pakistan is detrimental for energy crisis. Pakistan’s circular debt is increasing rapidly. Circular debt means a shortfall of payment with in the Central Power Purchasing Agency (CPPA) that it cannot pay to power supply companies. According to published reports, the circular debt of Pakistan is increasing at a high speed and it soared to Rs.2.327 trillion in 2020-21. It is still increasing at a high speed.
Every problem possesses a cause and every cause has adverse impacts on the countries, societies, citizens and economy. Similarly, there are various causes of energy crisis in Pakistan and these causes bring about many adverse effects on the Pakistan’s economy and its citizens. The biggest effect of energy crisis is the excessive load shedding. All cities and villages are in the darkness. High-level of load shedding has disturbed every person badly. It has affected the socio-economic system of Pakistan. Education of children is badly affected because of high excessive power cuts. Not only this, but patient in hospital are also disturbed. There are number of cases in hospitals where patients are in serious conditions, either they are on ventilators or some critical surgery is going on. During these pressures, there is a power-cut all of sudden and this sudden power cut can exacerbate the situation of patients because these patients are on the verge of death that needs to be treated instantly.
Another impact of energy crisis is the country’s economic downfall. This energy crisis has not only affected the poor, but rich people are also affected by it. Various industries are closed down because of frequent power breakdown. Shops are closed downs due to this crisis. Even factories are not able to meet their targets and experiencing a great loss. Therefore, factories are also closing down. Apart from this, local tailors are experiencing loss and they are unable to earn their livelihood according to their needs. This impact would cause negative consequences for a country because where trading is closed down, that country won’t be able to achieve economic growth and development.
Nowadays people have become habitual of electricity. They cannot find peace and cannot complete work on time due to power cuts. Excessive load shedding has created psychological or mental problems among the masses. They are unable to sleep well because of frequent and unscheduled power breakdown. They are unable to iron the clothes in the morning when they go to offices, or when children go to schools or colleges. This entire situation creates a psychological dissatisfaction. People are facing problems in maintaining their routine lives due to this bad situation.
Education of students is badly affected due to energy crisis. Pakistan is already very behind in terms of education, and shortage of energy is further aggravating the education in Pakistan. According to United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), more than 5.5 million children are out of schools in Pakistan due to number of reasons. The ratio of girls is very high and this ratio will further grow if the energy crisis is not handled properly because both students and teachers are facing a lot of problems. Students become exhausted and they are not able to study well due to excessive load-shedding. They either withdraw the educational institutions or they become the dropouts. If it continues like this, Pakistan will be on the lowest number in terms of good quality education.
Another impact of energy crisis is the increasing unemployment rate in Pakistan. Since the industries are closed, officers are shut down and factories have stopped the production because of lack of electricity, they have downsized the employees initially and as a result of prolong energy crisis, different factories, offices, franchises, industries and multinational corporations (MNCs) are closed. As a result, people are unable to find jobs in Pakistan. Pakistani people become unemployed in spite of having good educational background. Since they cannot find jobs, therefore, the unemployment rate of Pakistan is accelerating at a high speed. According to Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), the unemployment rate of Pakistan in 2019 was 4.10 percent and it was 4.40 percent in 2020. Therefore, it can be seen that the unemployment rate of Pakistan is increasing with the passage of time.
In addition, poverty is one of the main determinants of energy crisis in the country. It can be said that poverty is directly proportional to the unemployment rate in a country. Meaning that if unemployment rate in increasing, poverty will also increase and vice versa. People are not able to find jobs and they remain unemployed. This unemployment creates plethora of problems such as facing problems to earn livelihood and financial crisis. Moreover, the financial crisis of a household will lead towards the lower purchasing power. Certainly, Pakistan is having a lower purchase power, which means that the people do not have enough buying power to buy a product or commodity. And energy crisis has badly affected the country leading towards the poverty. According to Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), almost 40 percent of total population is living below the poverty line in 2019. And COVID-19 pandemic has further worsen the situation, which resulted in 30 percent of the total population of Pakistan living below the poverty line.
Declining exports is another dangerous impact of energy crisis in Pakistan. Exports are badly affected due to energy crisis. Deficiency in exports is causing economic loss as well. Different types of commodities are subjected to be exported, but Pakistan’s exports have declined due to looming energy crisis. According to Economic Survey of Pakistan, Pakistan’s imports have exceeded the exports and the net exports are in deficit, which is the bad situation for any country. A large portion of decline in exports is caused by excessive load-shedding and energy crisis.
Furthermore, the gap between the public and the state have widened as well. Now the general public does not have trust in government or politicians. They also use harsh and abusive language for their rules. And this is because of the inability of the government to hedge the looming energy crisis, which has almost brought economy into slump, moving towards economic crisis as well.
There is no any problem that comes without a solution. Every problem has certain remedies to fight against it. Likewise, energy crisis can be tackled by following certain suggestions and remedies. The first and foremost remedy to control energy crisis is to build consensus among politicians. Politicians lack in unity and they are badly divided. They only seek for their own interests excluding the country’s interests. It is the need of time for the politicians to build consensus and unity among themselves. They need to put the country’s interests on top priority and keeping their personal interests aside. If they do so, they will be united and integrated. In addition to it, all the politicians should be together when it comes in the matter of creating new dams and water reservoirs because if new dams are constructed, it will not only tackle the energy crisis, but also it will safeguard from future-coming floods.
In order to create energy, Pakistan is not using modern technology. If Pakistan wants to tackle energy crisis and creates its own energy, it needs to use advanced technological tools to create energy. Pakistan needs adequate funds to acquire advanced technological tools that convert wind and solar energy into electricity. If Pakistan becomes successful, it can eradicate energy crisis permanently.
The vast resources of Pakistan should be utilized. If it is utilized for the sake of creation of energy, it will last for over 50 years. Coal reservoir in Thar is capable of producing energy for over 50 years. It will not only eradicate energy crisis, but the future of Pakistan will be bright too. Same goes for wind, Pakistan has high intensity of wind and if energy is created from wind using modern advanced technological tools, it will also create energy for over 50 years approximately. Besides coal, natural gas is also present in Balochistan. All these natural resources are enough to create energy in Pakistan.
Furthermore, there is a need to bring reforms in regulation and distribution of electricity. Line losses and energy theft can be reduced by implementing advanced technological tools. Hundreds of megawatts (MWs) of electricity are wasted in energy theft because of corrupt officers. Therefore, removal of corrupt officers and penalizing the public who are involved in energy theft can be the best remedy to solve energy crisis issue.
Far sightedness of government also plays a very important role to eradicate energy crisis. Government should work on the production of energy, but unfortunately, the government has failed to keep the pace with growing needs of energy in relation to increasing population. It is needed to increase the production of energy as per requirement. If previous governments have built new dams, there would not have been energy crisis, but they failed to do so. Therefore, the current government needs to produce energy in order to halt the energy crisis. This kind of vision can eradicate energy crisis in Pakistan.
To conclude, it can be said that energy crisis has reached at an alarming stage and it is causing plethora of problems for Pakistan. Hundreds of industries are closed due to long power cuts, and it results in unemployment and poverty. It is suggested that Pakistan needs to initiate the constructive steps in order to control energy crisis. Resultantly, it can ensure progress and prosperity of the country.
The Author is a Lecturer (Management Sciences), SZABIST