ISLAMABAD: The federal government on Tuesday announced the end to one of its few energy-saving efforts — the two-day weekend. From November 27, the country will revert to a six-day week.
According to an official handout, “Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani has approved the proposal to discontinue the weekly holiday on Saturday from 27th November, 2010”.
This was not a surprising move as the measure, like the daylight saving measure the government had introduced in the previous years, was intended to be temporary.
This decision for a two-day weekend was taken by the Council of Common Interests at a meeting on April 22 which was held along the same time as a couple of high-level meetings to brainstorm innovative measures for energy conservation in the wake of the lengthy loadshedding sessions across the country.
These meetings were attended, among others, by the four chief ministers and were chaired by Prime Minister Gilani.
The decision was taken to save the use of electricity during the summer months in government and corporate offices such as banks where there is heavy use of air-conditioners.
As an observer points out: “The savings from the point of view of the government offices is two-fold — not only does it cut back on the use of energy, it also helps reduce the size of the bills that pile up against government offices which may not even be paid.”
It is for these reasons that this policy is a seasonal one — as was the earlier daylight saving one. Hence when the policy was introduced, it was decided that it would end on July 31.
However, the long summer compelled the government to extend the policy till October 31 and then till Nov 27.
Once the winter sets in there is no point in continuing this policy as the shortage the government will have to battle is that of gas.
According to government officials, the two-day weekend policy did save the government from 800 to 1,000 megawatts of electricity per day.
A Wapda official told that depending on the weather conditions and the efficacy of the accompanying measures such as closing the markets at eight and less use of street lights, the megawatts saved could go up to 1,100.
Nasir Jamal, a spokesman of the Ministry of Water and Power, called the saving “substantial” and said that it had been diverted to the agricultural sector and the export oriented industries.
Though the government account of the savings achieved cannot be discounted, experts point out that energy-saving measures such as these are formulated and implemented because the government is not able to take the more drastic and bigger decisions — increasing the power generation or being able to curb the theft of electricity.