The Supreme Court has allowed former minister for water and power Raja Pervez Ashraf to appear before the court to defend himself against corruption allegations in the award of contracts to Rental Power Projects (RPPs).
The apex court asked Pepco a second time to submit a comprehensive report specifying the names of parties who received money in RPP deals, existing generation capacity of RPP plants, their commercial operation date and cost per unit for consumers. A division bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry was hearing two identical petitions filed by Housing Minister Faisal Saleh Hayat and PML-N MNA Khawaja Asif on corruption in the award of contracts for RPPs. Asif said the idle installed capacity was approximately 1500 megawatts (MWs) when RPPs were sanctioned. “Had the money invested in RPPs been diverted for upgrading public sector generation plants, a crisis could have been averted.” “If the allegations are proven, [Ashraf] will have to face the consequences,” the CJP said.
Hayat resumed his arguments and said Nepra had accepted the violation of rules witnessed during the bidding process and subsequent contracts for generating 2250 MWs of electricity in November, 2009. He informed the bench that Rs52 per unit was the cost of electricity transmitted from Naudero-1 and eight plants were hired for $564 million to generate 1156 MWs for five years. “Banks were under immense pressure from the finance ministry to provide a chunk of the Rs25 billion mobilisation advance to RPPs, proven by Chairman Bankers Association Aftab Manzoor’s statement in July 2009.” The CJP appreciated Hayat for challenging his government while he was minister and said it was the first instance in the country’s history.
Asif contended that RPPs have turned out to be one of the biggest scams confirming criminal negligence in bypassing cheaper and more viable options for electricity generation and abuse of the government’s policymaking prerogative. He said the acute power crisis is a colossal failure of the government and the consequences of load shedding have gone far beyond the economy and upset the daily routine of 20 million households. “Nearly 46% of electricity is generated by power plants based on residual fuel oil, which is the highest in the world.” The case was adjourned for Monday.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 29th, 2011.