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Country to go dark on equality basis, decides NEC

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has said power load shedding will be carried out on an equitable basis in all parts of the country as demanded by the Punjab, two weekly holidays will be observed and commercial markets will be closed at 8pm to save electricity.

The PM was briefing the media about the outcome of the second National Energy Summit, which was held here on Monday. Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif was the host of the important event, which was presided over by the prime minister.

The PM said there was no consensus on uniform supply of natural gas to all federating units as no such provision had been included in the Constitution. He hinted that the price of natural gas could be increased to curb its growing demand.

About conservation measures recommended by the energy summit, the PM said mandatory closure of commercial markets by 8pm and alternative streetlights will help save 250-MW each. He said the department concerned would take stakeholders into confidence onthe closure of shops for the effective implementation of conservation measures.

He said participants of the summit also agreed on observing two days a week closure of all public sector offices in the country. Such a step, if implemented, will lead to saving 700-MW electricity, he added. Different timings will be observed in summer and winter in order to optimally use daylight, he observed, adding that there will be no supply of electricity to billboards.

PM Gilani said steps were being taken to distribute efficient energy savers among consumers with a view to reducing electricity demand. He said subsidy would be given on installation of solar tube-wells and a mechanism in this regard would be developed by the federal finance ministry.

To increase electricity generation, the PM said additional 207 million cubic feet per day gas (mmcfd) will be provided to four Independent Power Producers (IPPs) and Kot Addu Power Company (KAPCO). To check power theft, he said legal course of action would be initiated against the menace besides intensifying the campaign against those involved in electricity theft. He said special meters would be installed to check theft of electricity.

He announced increasing the slab for lifeline consumers from 50 units to 100 units, saying that it will help give relief to small-scale power users. About circular debt, the PM said Punjab and other provinces have assured payment of their outstanding dues of electricity, which would help clear circular debt.

Regarding construction of Kalabagh Dam, the PM said it is binding to create consensus on the construction of dams after the adoption of the 18th Amendment. He said he would be happy if all provinces agreed on the construction of KBD, but without that its construction was not possible. He said approval of the federal government would no more be required for setting up power generation units by provinces.

Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif expressed satisfaction over the decisions taken by the energy summit, saying it would help resolve the issue of energy in the country. Speaking at the inaugural session, the PM urged the provinces to play their due role in efforts for generating power to overcome the energy crisis. He said the federal government was committed to energy security for the people of Pakistan and “our strategy is to ensure sustainable power supply at competitive prices to all sectors.”

He elaborated that government strategy involved further exploitation of hydropower to reduce cost of inputs; developing coal reserves for power generation and converting plants from oil to coal, as the Thar coal reserve alone has 175 billion tonnes and is suitable for power generation of around 100,000 MW annually; developing and encouraging use of renewable energy resources (solar, wind and biomass); increasing emphasis on nuclear energy resources; accelerating exploration and production of oil and gas reserves including off-shore drilling; targeted subsidies for the lowest slab users; encouraging use of LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) and import of LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) to meet gas requirement; recognising the role of provinces in power generation, and energy efficiency and conservation.

Investment in the energy sector was not significant before 2008, while the previous regime had not made efforts to capture hydel and coal potential and hence not a single megawatt of electricity had been added to the national grid, the PM said, adding that the present government inherited a supply shortage of 5,000-MW in 2008, and electricity demand and number of consumers was increasing by over seven per cent and 5.5 per cent per year, respectively.

Gilani said through effective steps, the present government had managed to add 34,00-MW to the power system over the last four years, besides changing the energy mix and shifting towards hydel and coal. “For this, we have accelerated work on the Neelum-Jhelum power project; finalised financing for a more turbines in Tarbela with the assistance of World Bank; starting work on Diamer-Bhasha Dam; design is underway for Dasu Dam; rehabilitation of Jabban hydropower Malakand; Jaggran-II with the assistance of France; Gomal Zam and Satpara Dam with the US assistance and Patrind Hydropower (AJK) in the private sector by a Korean company,” he added.

The PM said the government was also building Chasham-III and IV, and 747-MW Guddu combined cycle with the assistance of China; improvement of transmission and distribution system as well as building new grid stations with major assistance of Asian Development Bank.

AJK Prime Minister Chaudhry Abdul Majeed, KP Governor Barrister Kausar Masood, KP Chief Minister Amir Haider Khan Hoti, Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah, Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Khan Raisani, Federal Finance Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, Federal Minister for Water and Power Naveed Qamar, Federal Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Dr Asim Hussain, Gilgit-Baltistan Senior Minister Muhammad Jafar and a large number of parliamentarians, businessmen, representatives of international donor agencies and experts associated with the energy sector attended the function.

Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif, in his inaugural speech, presented a comprehensive road map for overcoming the current energy crisis in Pakistan. He said a policy was formulated at the national energy conference held in Islamabad two years ago for overcoming the power crisis and Punjab fulfilled its responsibilities in this regard, but the issue of circular debt had still not been resolved and this debt had now reached a staggering figure of more than Rs400 billion.

He said conferences and seminars are no solution to the serious issue. The CM demanded that quarterly schedule of gas and power should be announced and unscheduled loadshedding be checked. He said there should be a uniform policy of loadshedding of power and gas in all areas of the country, adding that supply of gas to thepower sector be increased and the plants showing better performance be given preference in fuel supply.

Referring to short and medium term measures, the Chief Minister proposed that one window facility be provided at the Prime Minister’s Secretariat for fast track energy projects and a senior energy advisor be appointed to maintain coordination with all federal and provincial institutions, public sector enterprises and IPPs. He proposed that Discos be privatised to improve their efficiency and observed that this would also eliminate corruption. He said that incentives should be given on better recovery and timely payments should be made to Gencos.

Similarly, the CM said an organised institution should be established for regulating the energy sector and 30 per cent share of public sector development programme should be allocated for the development of energy sector. He said all-out assistance should be extended to the Sindh government for generation of power from Thar coal. He further said that sincere efforts should be made for the import of electricity from Iran through land routes to tackle the energy problem in the country, adding that comprehensive reforms will have to be introduced in the country in accordance with the organised economic reforms of China, Taiwan, Turkey and South Korea.

The Chief Minister further said that the payment ratio of Punjab province is much better than that of any other area of the country which can be judged from the fact that Fesco and Faisalabad have only 11 per cent line losses while the recovery rate is 99.8 per cent. He said that the people of Punjab are paying their dues but they are part of a system which favours thieves and defaulters and penalises the honest. The Chief Minister further said that 900 megawatt energy could have been produced from Chichoki Maliyan and Nandipur hydel power stations but the Ministry of Law did not accept the sovereign guarantee due to which the Chinese company left the country. He said had these plants been set up, the power crises would have been controlled.

Shahbaz said that out of a total amount outstanding to provinces in the power sector, Punjab has only a sum of Rs4.5 billion which is only 1.5 per cent of the total amount and it will also be paid within the next one and a half months.

Shahbaz further said that 2000 megawatt energy can be produced from the bagasse of 75 sugar mills but no attention has been paid to this sector during the last four years. He said that history would not forgive us if sincere efforts are not made at this stage for the development of the power sector.

In his address, Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah enumerated the Sindh government’s initiatives for power generation through its available resources including the Thar coal potential. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) CM Amir Haider Hoti said his province has planned to develop 24 power projects with accumulative generation capacity of 2,100 mega watts in the next ten years to overcome the energy crisis. He said, “We on our part have prepared the Hydel Development Action Plan 2011-2025 by taking on board all political parties and stakeholders to ensure its continuity even after the present provincial government.”

He said the action plan had been put in order to develop 24 medium-sized hydel power projects with total potential of 2,100-MW with a total cost of around Rs330 billion during next ten years.

In his address, Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Khan Raisani also stressed the need for collaborative and concerted measures to enhance power generation that would ultimately ensure Pakistan’s economic development and its people’s prosperity.

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