‘Progress in energy sector better than that of last 12 years’


LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government’s progress in energy sector during one year of its inception is far better than 12 years of previous regimes.
Minister of State for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali during a media briefing at Lahore Electric Supply Company (LESCO) on Tuesday said soon after coming into power, the government paid a grant of Rs 500 billion to retire power sector’s circular debt which was accumulated just because of the bad governance and corruption in rental and other power projects by the past government.
This huge amount of Rs 500 billion could have been used to complete any of the dam or mega power project, he added.
He questioned fortune-tellers speaking high against the government and resorting to street protests had done what while sitting beside General (retd) Pervez Musharraf for eight years for ending electricity load shedding.
He said Nawaz tasked him to give an end to kunda culture and power theft, reduce load shedding duration, improve electricity generation as well as to do away with the mess in the power sector created by the previous government.
The element of over billing was surfaced in some Discos (power distribution companies), while there was no or low tendency of paying electricity bills in several parts of the country, he said. He warned power thieves and those facilitating them would face strict action.
He assured government would end the power crisis before end of its constitutional term. Punjab government had assured them to pay its power dues of Rs 5.5 billion this week and thanked Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif for an active role in this regard.
The Sindh government had outstanding electricity bills of Rs 56 billion, Balochistan government Rs 75 billion for tube-wells and Rs 100 billion for other power bills and this matter was being taken up with respective chief ministers, he added.
About Azad Jammu and Kashmir, he said a six-member committee had been constituted to have meeting with its prime minister for payment of electricity dues.
To another question, he said the power generation was 14,000 megawatts (MW) when the PML-N government taken over and last year it had increased this figure to 16,000 MW and this year it was targeting 18,000 MW generation. He said commissioning of 747 MW Guddu Power Project before its stipulated time saved Rs 60 billion of the national exchequer.
Minister said government had signed an agreement with Pakistan Railways for transportation of furnace oil to thermal power plants in a bid to curb the oil pilferage and theft from truck tankers.
All the Discos had been directed to issue feeder-wise load shedding schedule and publish the high losses feeders in the newspapers, asserting high loss making feeders would face long time load shedding than other feeders.
He said 100 feeders of LESCO were high loss making.
The Company management had been directed to ensure 100 percent recovery of bills before June 30, 2014, he added.
Government was executing very speedily a number of power projects including 402 MW Uch Power Project, 100 MW Solar Power, 1,320 MW Tarbela 4th Extension Project, 425 MW Nandipur Power, 250 MW Guddu Power Rehabilitation Project, 969 MW Neelum-Jehlum Hydropower Project and coal-fired power projects at Port Qasim and Gaddani.
He said government had released Rs 25 billion funds for Diamir-Bhasha Dam in current fiscal year, while Nawaz would lay foundation stone of Dasu Dam in November this year.
The prime minister adviser Dr Musaddiq Malik told media government was following a two-phased strategy to overcome energy crisis, elaborating in the first phase of political will and infrastructural development, the government so far installed electronic meters at 8,500 feeders to check in and out flow of electricity to the consumers. The second phase focused transparency and elimination of power theft.
He said electricity worth up to Rs 25 billion was being stolen annually from 20 percent quota of LESCO.

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