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This story has been submitted by Mohammad Haris.
Just when we thought, we are at the end of the electricity crisis, Pakistan witnessed a blackout. January’s blackout strengthened our beliefs regarding the misconceptions that are being fed to us. By whom? By individuals who have zero expertise in the subject area.
Shortly after the “juice” powering our houses dried up, fake news with rumors poured in on social and mainstream media. Somebody claimed it was because of Pakistan’s fragile electricity infrastructure laid out by incompetent individuals that everything was plunged into darkness all at once. While the politicians kept their tradition of point-scoring and blaming each other alive.
The great blackout in Pakistan
The blackout happened because of a human error as per the National Transmission and Dispatch Company. Such unforeseeable events cannot be curtailed even by technologically advanced countries like the US and the then Soviet Union.
The incidents like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico; nuclear melt-down at Chernobyl followed by the gas leakage disaster in Bhopal happened because of mistakes made by personnel who were present on-the-spot.
But one thing was clear. We should not believe any news that appears either on social or mainstream media blindly. Since this is what Quran tells us to do.
“O you who believe! If a Faasiq (liar – evil person) comes to you with any news, verify it, lest you should harm people in ignorance, and afterwards you become regretful for what you have done.” (49:6)
Though, there are problems with our power generation and transmission system that need to be addressed. Yet, it is a common international practice to have a “National-grid based interconnected system”.
How power plants generate electricity & how consumers receive it?
So, what are the advantages of this configuration? What is the reason a single failure at the Guddu Power plant triggered a domino-effect? Let’s see how power plants generate electricity. And, how consumers eventually receive it.
As the figure shows, power stations produce electricity using coal, gas, hydropower, or even consumer’s houses. Yes, your own house can be run as a power station. Electricity can be generated using solar panels placed on top of the roofs and fed to the national grid. This is all possible because of the interconnection of all generating stations which was purported to be
“flawed” by one of our non-technical editors of a reputed national daily.
To “push” electricity through farther distances with minimum losses, a device called Transformer is used. At the generating station, transformers step-up the voltage level, and this high voltage electricity is connected to a common power line called the “National grid”.
Following are a few benefits of connecting all power stations around the country to a centralized power grid.
- They allow power stations to be placed in the less populous areas like near rivers etc.
This keeps pollution away from the major cities.
- A power station requiring maintenance can be isolated from the centralized grid and repaired while the continuity of supply to consumers is insured through other parts of the country.
- Reduced power losses occur because of such a system which helps in increasing the overall efficiency.
The list still is not exhaustive. Unfortunately, there is a crisis happening at a different level in our country which is going unnoticed.
The menace of misinformation
The misinformation being spread out in the form of poorly researched articles, and talk shows on issues like COVID-19, the national electricity crisis, etc. is going to affect us a lot in the long run.
The primetime shows are being conducted by anchorpersons who do not even know the basics of immunology, power systems. Yet, they question and try to defame people having Doctorates and pertinent experiences in the subject field. The same is the case with the column inches being given to pseudo-expert journalists. As they say, “In Pakistan, everyone is the master of someone else’s trade and fails badly at their own business”.
The black-out revealed several horrific problems regarding the ignorant mindset and level of journalism in Pakistan and the incompetence of politicians.
Pakistan needs talented and professional doctors, engineers, scientists, and researchers to explore new horizons of prosperity. Even if we install clones of Imran Khan in every office, we cannot eradicate corruption, injustice, and nepotism altogether.
To put things simply, we can only prosper as a nation if and only if a due share of responsibility is taken by everyone. And, no one interferes in something that he/she does not understand.
There is a quote, “A half-truth is a whole lie”. Anything that is consumed by a chunk of the population has the potential of leaving a significant impact on its mind. People can easily be manipulated through false information. And, in a country like ours, already struggling with brain-drain and a tarnished international image, we simply cannot afford to be misled. May this be the “Sputnik moment” for us to start taking things seriously. Aameen.