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Energy conference may stir up political tensions: KCCI

The Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) has cautioned the government that the upcoming energy conference may end up politicising matters of distribution of gas and electricity instead of trying to find out ways to end power crisis.

In a letter sent to Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Saturday, KCCI said the business community of Karachi had deep reservations and concerns over some of the agenda points of the conference to be held in Lahore on April 9.

On the other hand, the business community of Sindh had not been taken into confidence and not invited to participate in preparatory deliberations before the conference, it added.

KCCI was of the view that existing electricity shortages had increased to a large extent because of scarcity of gas.

Citing one of the root causes of the gas shortage, KCCI said Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) – which covers Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa – laid around 36,000 km of pipelines in the last four years for supply of about 750 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) of gas to different consumers, especially rural villages, CNG stations and some big consumers.

In comparison, Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) – which covers Sindh and Balochistan – provided new gas connections for only 150 mmcfd in a cautious manner.

The chamber pointed out that SSGC had a backlog of applications for more than 350 mmcfd. Had SSGC and the Sindh government not taken a cautious stance, the situation in the province would have been the same as that faced by SNGPL in Punjab.

The chamber also strongly objected to a point on the conference agenda which says, “Is there a case for continued supply to privatised KESC from NTDC (National Transmission and Dispatch Company) system when loadshedding in Karachi is two to three hours but in the rest of the country it is 12 to 16 hours.”

KCCI recommended that instead of reopening and questioning issues settled under the Constitution, the government should concentrate on removing major bottlenecks, take strategic decisions to produce more energy, undertake reforms and improve governance for containing losses and leakages.

It also called on the government to speed up energy projects like encouraging mining especially coal mining in Thar, focus on renewable energy like wind, small hydropower plants, solid waste and sea waves.

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