In its desperate search for solutions to the chronic power crisis, the government is willing to ‘hook up’ with its traditional ‘adversary’. At a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, the government decided to seek a connection between Pakistan and India’s power grids to allow the import of electricity from the country’s larger neighbour.
A statement released by the prime minister’s office, however, made no mention of how the government planned on solving the circular debt problem, which has financially crippled the entire energy sector. The meeting instead focused on new energy projects.
The statement quoted the prime minister as having told the participants of the meeting that he would raise the issue of connecting the two grids in his upcoming meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the Maldives.
“The proposed grid could contribute towards reducing the power shortage in both the countries in their long term usage provided the modalities are appropriately worked out between the two counties,” the prime minister said.
Gilani and Singh are expected to hold a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit scheduled for later this month in Male, the capital of Maldives.
The meeting also decided expedite work on two mega hydropower and one thermal projects — Neelum-Jhelum, Kohala and Nandipur — to complete them within the stipulated time.
Gilani expressed deep concern over the long delay in the 969 MWs Neelum-Jhelum hydropower project, that had seen the cost overrun from Rs15 billion in 1989 to Rs333 billion now. The government is hoping to complete the run of the river project by 2016 but raising funds from both the domestic and overseas sources looks to be an uphill task. Gilani was also furious about the delays in beginning work on the Kohala hydroelectric power project, which would have a generation capacity of 1,100 MW.
The prime minister also directed that work on 1,450 MW Tarbella 4 expansion project should be started without any further delay to produce affordable electricity in the country.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 2nd, 2011.