Govt working day and night to generate electricity: Nawaz

* PM says country will be able to produce 21,000MW to 22,000MW more electricity in next eight to nine years * PML-N inherited energy crisis from previous rulers

SAHIWAL: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said on Friday that his government is toiling day and night to meet the energy shortfall. 
The prime minister said that all-out effort of the present government on energy generation projects show its commitment and resolve to combat the energy crisis. Addressing the foundation stone-laying ceremony of Sahiwal coal-fired power projects of 1,320 megawatts (two projects of 660MW each), he said the country would be able to produce 21,000MW to 22,000MW more electricity in the next eight to nine years. The prime minister said he had discussed the project with Chinese investors and asked Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to initiate coal-fired power projects in Punjab.
“It is the result of hard work and seriousness of the government that the stone of the project was laid in a short span of two months after the conceiving of the idea,” he added. Nawaz hoped that the project would be completed in two years, instead of the stipulated period of 30 months due to the speedy pace of work. A Chins consortium of Huaneng Shandong and Shandong Ruyi Group has invested in the Sahiwal project, spanning over 1,000 acres of land. 
The projects will be completed in two phases, with the two units of the first phase, producing 1,320MW, and two units of the second phase each producing 1,000MW. The prime minister thanked the people of China and their government for initiating the Pak-China Economic Corridor under which several development projects would be launched in due course of time. The project is part of the Sino-Pak Economic Corridor Programme and it would be Pakistan’s largest coal-fired power plant, which would be completed by November 2016.
Prime Minister Nawaz said the country is facing an acute energy crisis, which the PML-N government had inherited from previous governments. “We are committed to resolving the problem effectively and at the earliest.” He said the project was a reward for the people of Sahiwal as they had given a heavy mandate to the PML-N in the general elections 2013. After laying the foundation stone of the Port Qasim Coal Power Project, he said the Sahiwal project was the third in a row of coal power projects to be set up under the Sino-Pak Economic Corridor Programme. 
The Nandipur Power Project would start generation formally today (Saturday), which amply proves the government’s seriousness in pursuing power projects, he added. The prime minister said the Sino-Pak Economic Corridor Programme would be a game changer for both Pakistan and China. He elaborated that under the Corridor Programme, a 2700km long highway would be built from Kashghar to Gwadar with industrial zones on its either sides, while a modern airport would also be built in Gwadar. Other plans include upgradation of the Pakistan Railways and Lahore-Karachi Motorway for which the government would allocate Rs 55 billion in the upcoming budget for land acquisition. 
The Corridor Programme, he added, also incorporated coal-fired power projects, including 10 projects at Gaddani, six in Punjab, including Sahiwal, 10 at Thar and two each at Jamshoro and Port Qasim. The prime minister said the Bhasha and Dasu dams would produce 4,500MW each, asserting that he had directed the quarters concerned to ensure early completion of the 969MW Neelam-Jehlam Hydropower Project. Nawaz Sharif said that over the last 65 years, the country has managed to install 23,000MW generation capacity, which had reduced to 13,000MW operational capacity. 
However, he said, the PML-N government is committed to producing an additional 22,000MW in the next eight to nine years. He said that Pakistan’s economic indicators were good, promising and assuring, which was a good sign for the economy. The prime minister said it was his dream to transform Gwadar into an economic hub like Dubai, Hong Kong and Singapore. In his address, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said that following the vision of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the PML-N was fulfilling the promises of overcoming the energy crisis made during its election campaign.
Shahbaz said that China had always stood by Pakistan in every time of difficulty. He said Chinese economic cooperation and huge investment by undertaking energy and other projects in Pakistan, especially in Punjab, would bring development and prosperity to the region. The Chinese dignitaries, in their address, expressed there resolve to continue cooperation through joint ventures with Pakistan. The Ruyi Group chairman said the consortium would complete the Sahiwal project with full dedication. “It is our passion to invest in Pakistan that is a land of opportunities due to its excellent strategic and geographic position,” he added.

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