Faced with growing anger over power outages in Punjab, the centre lashed out against the provincial government on Monday, alleging that the province’s leadership is involved in fomenting trouble.
Addressing a news conference in Islamabad, Minister for Water and Power Ahmed Mukhtar declared that “A case will be filed against Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif even if he is found to be among the protesters destroying public assets.”
The minister also defended the decision to ensure that the President House and Prime Minister House receive uninterrupted power supply at a time when the country was in a state of crisis over the energy shortage.
Mukhtar added, “I have taken up the portfolio of water and power minister by choice and had requested the president to give me this office as a challenge,” pointing out that the Punjab government had committed during meetings of the Council of Common Interest (CCI) and energy conference to clear dues but did not live up to its commitment.
“The Punjab government is to clear dues worth Rs15.6 billion whereas Sindh is to pay Rs51 billion,” he said.
The minister revealed that the Pakistan Electric Power Company (Pepco) is to receive Rs378 billion from private and public departments – including a whopping Rs166 billion from powerful running defaulters.
The current power production stands at 10,500 megawatts (MW) against the targeted generation of 13,500MW. The minister said that the demand for power is 17,500MW. “We can save 2,000 to 2,500 MW power by using energy savers,” he added.
“Water inflows will improve in the Tarbela Dam, and we hope that 1,000 MW of hydel power will be added to the national grid in a couple of days,” he said, adding 105 million cubic feet gas per day (mmcfd) has been diverted from fertiliser plants to power plants.
In addition, the minister said, power distribution companies are to provide Rs1.3 billion daily in the form of taxes, from the recovery of bills, to generate 2,500MW of additional power. A total of 1,200 metric tonnes of fuel is to be provided to the Hubco plant and 2,500 metric tonnes of fuel to a plant in Muzaffargarh to generate more power.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 19th, 2012.
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