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Rs 20.4 billion allocated for energy

Punjab government has fixed Rs 20.43 billion for energy projects during the FY 2013-14 as compared to Rs 10 billion of the current year, which remained unutilised during the FY 2012-13. During his budget speech, Punjab Finance Minister Mujtaba Shuja-ur-Rehman blamed the previous federal government for creating hurdles in developing the energy sector including the Nadipur power project. The optimistic minister, however, said that now there is also the government of PML-N in the centre and Prime Minister Mian Muhamamd Nawaz Sharif has already publicised his vision to generate energy for the country. For solar energy projects, the Punjab province has fixed Rs 7.55 billion comprising Rs 7.5 billion for subsidy on installation of solar tube wells in various districts of the Punjab to exploit the solar energy potential of the province. Besides this, Rs 470 million has been fixed for solar solution for government offices and Rs 194 million for provision of solar panels to households below the poverty line. Block allocations have been made for the Nadipur power project and other initiatives for the energy sector. The white paper of the provincial budget 2013-14 states that the ever-increasing power shortages and terrorism have been holding back growth in the last five years. During this period growth in Punjab remained lower than the average national growth of 2.94 due to more power outages compared to other parts of the country. It states after the 18th amendment, provinces are expected to chip in the generation of energy. The government of Punjab has initiated several projects to this end. “Our efforts in this sector were stymied by less than cooperative federal government. Now the government of Punjab intends to undertake multiple projects in energy sector and for this over Rs 20 billion have been allocated,” states the white paper. Despite a similar budget speech last year with special focus on energy, the provincial government could not deliver in energy sector as most of the funds were re-allocated to other schemes from Rs 10 billion, which were originally earmarked for energy. As a short-term solution to energy crisis, fast track development of bagasse-based power generation projects will be implemented and initially 800-1000 MW electricity would be generated from sugarcane bagasse. Installation of small hydel power plants on canals and conversion of thermal power plants in the industry to coal-powered generation will be implemented as a long-term plan. shabbir sarwar

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