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Kalabagh Dam vital to energy needs

AVAILABILITY of cheap electricity apparently has become a dream for Pakistanis due to wrong policies of government but this dream can be accomplished by relieving this power and gas sector on the pattern of telecom sector and developing consensus on construction of Kalabagh Dam.

These views were expressed by the experts in Jang Economic Session on ‘how to ensure cheap electricity timely’, here Wednesday. The panellists were Economist Dr Salman Shah, former LESCO Chief Engineer Qaiser Zaman, Agriculturist Jamshed Iqbal Cheema, Mian Fazal Ahmed and Ch Aslam while hosted by Sikandar Hameed Lodhi and Intikhab Tariq.

Dr Salman Shah said the cheapest energy could be generated through hydel resources and construction of Kalabagh Dam was crucial for Pakistan’s energy need. He called for consensus on Kalabgah Dam by setting aside the politics. He said Pakistan’s energy sector was completely controlled by public sector likewise telecom sector 30 years ago when every new phone connection was established on recommendation. However, now telecom sector is generating Rs 500 billion revenue and energy sector getting Rs 500 billion subsidy, he added. He said power sector should also be released from government control.

Qaiser Zaman said successive government intentionally pushed the country for thermal power generation. He said had Nawaz government started Kalabagh Dam instead of motorway the country would have been benefited more. He said Pakistan was far behind to generate cheap energy and if electricity tariff continued to grow with this pace it would be out of the reach of everyone.

Jamshed Iqbal Cheema said foundation of costly energy generation was laid down in 1994 by focusing thermal power generation. He said country was facing 5,000 to 6,000 megawatt shortfall while generating only 6,000 megawatt hydel generation while this shortfall will reach 24,000 megawatt by 2025 if it is not managed. He said the government should remove all the obstacles hindering the construction of dams, use sugarcane bagasse for energy generation.

Mian Fazal Ahmed said hike in electricity tariff was due to corruption, incompetence and poor political leadership. He called for utilising solar energy resources to control shortfall by establishing solar panel manufacturing factories. He suggested restructuring of energy board and appointment of competent officials in it. Ch Aslam said the electricity prices could be reduced by 30 per cent by controlling its theft. He said if the government decides to stop electricity theft it could be monitored from transformer to meter. He said Wapda was made hapless after making dams controversial. He said had the ruling government spent BISP and RPP money on hydel generation the situation would have been different today.

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