ISLAMABAD: The announcement made by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of ending load shedding has proved only to be tall claims as the sequence of shutting down power in the rural areas for 8 to 10 hours and in urban areas for 6 to 8 hours is still going on in full swing. Due to long and unscheduled load shedding, people’s routine has been badly disrupted. At present, Pakistan has demand of approximately 12000 megawatts of electricity, but at the same time it is facing a shortfall of approximately 4000 mw, whereas the circular debt of the power sector has crossed Rs 660 billion, which is increasing with every passing month. The reason of this increase is the failure of the government to make payments to IPPs and Pakistan State Oil (PSO) and on the other hand it has become very hard for the DISCOs (distribution companies) to get their dues and control line losses. These companies have also failed to resolve the issue of power theft in which not only the owners of big industrial units are involved but common people pilfer the electricity too at a large scale. Most of these companies are short of the recovery target by 90 per cent. It is very much likely that load shedding might be increased in the summer season, when the demand of power will also swell. The government had claimed that the power generation has reached to its top level of 17000 megawatts in the month of July last year, but the Secretary Water and Power made it clear during a meeting that the outdated system of the country cannot bear the load of producing over 15000 megawatts. He also said that the upgradation of the system was a must for increasing power generation otherwise it would be very difficult for the government to overcome the menace of load shedding. Sources said that the government is giving all its attention to new power projects, especially coal related projects, and it has almost ignored the mending of the prevailing obsolete system of distribution in which line losses have become a permanent headache for WAPDA. The sources said that the government has included a few power projects in PSDP during the current fiscal year, but due to lack of funds, these projects are moving at a snail’s pace. On the other hand, the government has also reduced the payment to IPPs as well as PSO, which is supplying furnace oil to the power production companies. These generating firms have also asked the government to release the payments to them or else they will stop the production. Sources also told this scribe that in the wake of the deteriorating situation, the Ministry of Water and Power has requested the Ministry of Finance for a bailout package for the power sector, which could drag it out from a financial crisis, but the government did not pay any heed towards it.