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Punjab seeking private investment in energy sector

Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said on Monday that in order to cope with the problem, the Punjab government was encouraging private sector in power generation to get rid of loadshedding.

He has said an energy department had been set up in the province which was extending assistance to new projects of power generation. He said establishment of the Power Generation Development Fund had been proposed for launching six projects for the production of 1,000 megawatt energy in the province. He said the fund would be completely autonomous and would provide required technical assistance and help in the setting up of new projects of power generation.

The chief minister stated this while presiding over a meeting held for formulation of a comprehensive policy for the launching of new power generation projects. The meeting also reviewed the existing power crisis, noting that power consumption in Punjab, which constituted 50 percent population of the country, was 68 percent while the province was contributing 65 percent share in the GDP. Moreover, due to favourable business conditions, 60 percent industries were operating in Punjab but the duration of loadshedding in the province was excessive.

Shahbaz said Punjab had the best record in the country regarding power consumption and payment of the dues and the performance of all the five distribution companies of the province was better than other federal units. He said small projects could be launched for the supply of power to the small industrial estates set up in the province while investment by the private sector was being encouraged for the purpose.

He said under the policy of joint ventures by public and private sector 1,000 megawatt energy would be generated by six projects which were 250 to 300 megawatt power generation project in Muzaffargarh, 300 megawatt in Rahimyar Khan 250-300 megawatt in the Faisalabad Industrial Estate, 120 megawatt in Taunsa, 80 mega watts in Cholistan and 30 mega watts in Lodhran.

The CM expressed satisfaction over the fact that the Punjab government had evolved a comprehensive roadmap for power generation which would help overcome the energy crisis. He said a sum of Rs150 million would also be provided in this regard for the capacity-building of provincial energy department.

He said that solar energy was sufficient in southern Punjab, therefore, solar panels could be given to farmers of the far-flung and backward areas of the region for agri purposes. He said the project would help the farming community meet its irrigational needs. He said that it would also save the heavy expenditure on tube-wells operated through diesel and electricity. Shahbaz directed that a scheme be devised to provide solar panels to the farmers on the pattern of the Green Tractor scheme having up to 12.5 acres of agri land.

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