Hydroelectric generation has come to an alarming low because of serious water shortage, gripping the entire country in one of the worst crisis and there appears to be no effort afoot to give the people relief from mounting temperatures in days and darkness in nights. The electricity shortfall increased on Sunday to 5,500MW, about 40 per cent of the estimated peak demand of 13,500MW, resulting in an average load shedding of 12 hours across the country. Load shedding of up to 18 hours is reported in rural areas and 12 hours in major cities. Punjab seems struck harder by the crisis than other provinces, although the situation is no good in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa either. The total power generation at peak hours stood at about 8,100MW on Sunday, causing a demand-supply gap of about 5,500MW. The power generation was also affected by technical faults in two independent power plants closure of another four IPPs owing to serious gas shortfalls and non-utilization of about 6,000MW of hydroelectric capacity, said a spokesman for the ministry of water and power. Two thermal power plants – AES and Hubco – which had gone out of order on Saturday due to technical faults, could not be repaired and resulted in an additional capacity loss of 700MW. In addition, two IPPs — Engro and Pakgen — were currently on scheduled maintenance and will be back in system by end of this week. The ministry of water and power was coordinating with petroleum minister Dr Asim Husain who is on a visit abroad for discussion of about 300 million cubic feet of gas per day from industrial and fertilizer sectors to power generation so that four IPPs with a capacity of about 1500MW currently lying idle could go into production. Sapphire, Saif, Orient and Halmore power producers are available for power generation but are too expensive to be run on diesel as an alternate fuel while gas is not available for them. As a result, about 840MW of capacity remains unproductive. Lack of operational responsibilities are also seen as problems in management of smooth power supplies. Efforts are also being made to get gas to run power plants of 1500MW. If the government can spend $8.2 billion on servicing the International Monetary Fund debts, earmarking one-eighth of this amount to improve power generation and supply can also be done. And if the government is not considering this, it amounts to an unconstitutional act because it is not discharging its fundamental duty to the people.