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Pakistan switches off air-conditioners in government offices

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Date:May 9, 2013

Prescribes summer dress code for employees

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The government of Pakistan has banned air-conditioners in its offices to cope with power shortage. It has also suggested a summer dress code for officials. The ban will be effective from May 15 and continue until the energy situation improves, reads a statement released by the prime minister’s office on May 8.

The dress code recommends light coloured, loose fitting clothes to combat summer heat. Government employees will also be allowed to wear shoes without laces or sandals without socks at work. "The measure reflects the resolve of the government to manage the power crisis by management of demand," the statement said.

Reportedly, caretaker prime minister Hazar Khan Khoso’s house has already stopped using air-conditioners as part of an austerity cum conservation drive. “There is a power shortage of around 5,000MW in Pakistan,” said Arshad H Abbasi, advisor at Sustainable Development Policy Institute, a non-profit based in Islamabad.  We are facing power cuts of five to eight hours in Islamabad and around 14-18 hours in rural areas, he added. The temperature in some parts of Pakistan reaches around 40°C in peak summers. Having taken the first step, Khoso has also appealed to the people of Pakistan to adopt energy conservation measures.

However, the energy conservation move of the government has not gone down well with some Pakistan-based environmentalists. “It is a mere eyewash,” said Shafqat Kakakhel, an environmentalist based in Islamabad. I doubt that this move would be implemented properly. Abbasi, on the other hand, said better ideas are needed to combat heat—by focusing on green architecture, for example. “Also, the decision has been taken by the interim government. We are still to see if the new government will support this regime,” added Abbasi.

Meanwhile, demand for air-conditioners in India is growing at over 30 per cent annually. According to a study by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India, the room AC market in India was estimated at 4.2 million units and valued at Rs 7,200 crore in 2011.

 

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