“Let the sleepless nights begin”. Thus begins one of the many load shedding stricken tweets. Such tweets are rolling out faster than the speed of light. The ghost of load shedding has returned with all its might. Temperatures soaring to 40 degrees Celsius with power outages for more than 12 hours, sometimes, in one go, all seem too sadly familiar. A year ago, as I had started this blog, documenting my thoughts on the energy crisis that has engulfed Pakistan, I was most excited to know what the newly elected government has in store for us “too-naive-to-get-into-thinking load shedding-will-end-by-2014” public. Much has been accomplished, yet it is still not enough. The ghost just doesn’t seem to rest. It has reasons, very rightly so.
In these past 11 months, we have read in the media about multiple, gas, coal, hydroelectric projects promulgated by the new government, MoUs, energy trade pacts signed, promises by the dear and near nations, development banks to finance the projects, solar parks to be initiated but today the big question that looms on everybody’s mind is “Where are the megawatts?” .There was an energy policy announced that is going nowhere. Its such a paradoxical situation where the country is applying for 3G and 4G cellular connection but cannot say the same for providing basic necessities like electricity, gas and water. I have touched upon these miscalculated priorities in my blog titled Incubating Change makers. While it is easy to throw all arrows on the government, lets not forget how we as a nation are equally to be blamed for. We love free rides and want electricity without paying for it. My blog Power Outages and Power theft in Pakistan talks about it at length.We represent a social political system which squirms at the idea of paying for utilities and favors a vigorous onslaught of abiding the rules which only favor the privileged. All these factors have a draining effect on a sustainable and smooth electricity supply. If only paying regular bills can be smoothed out, we can at least think of putting an end to unannounced and unabated load shedding.
We have to get our act together. I know this sounds cliched, there are examples that we can get inspired from. These examples teach us that nations who have buckled themselves up are destined for heights. For example, no nation would ever like to go through what Japan had to in 2011. Earthquake, tsunami and nuclear plant disasters had left the nation’s energy situation in doldrums. Still, its people showed what can be done quickly to overcome this crisis by carrying out a massive energy conservation campaign Setsuden in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Posters of happy cartoon light bulbs were put up as part of electricity conservation campaign. Remember, this is Japan, a highly networked, digital society; home to electronics, games, car manufacturers etc but they set their priorities right and sacrificed in the short run to see long run results.
Let this crisis prove not to be our nemesis but an opportunity to tackle situations by developing societal resilience. Else, the ghosts of darkness and miseries will stay abound.