FAISALABAD: Reiterating the resolve to end energy shortages, Minister of State for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali has said that the government is fully committed to honouring its promise to eliminate load-shedding by 2018, while the process to make it cheaper will start next year.
He was speaking to the business community at the Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) on Monday.
He said power production had increased from 13,500 to 17,000 megawatts due to government’s efforts while in October 2018 another 8,000 to 10,000MW would be added to the system, which would be sufficient to meet the country’s needs.
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The government was not only constructing power plants but a transmission line from Mitiari to Lahore would also be laid after bidding for the project, said the minister. Under the project’s second phase, a transmission line from Mitiari to Faisalabad will be laid.
He said the Sahiwal coal power plant would be completed in May or June next year. “Similarly, work is in progress on Thar coal power plants.”
These plants will use locally produced coal to produce cheap electricity while another three power projects based on imported re-gasified liquefied natural gas were under construction at Bhikki, Baloki and Haveli Bahadar Shah. These will generate 3,600MW of electricity.
According to Ali, approximately Rs100 billion has been saved in these projects. The Bhikki plant will be completed by May next year while the remaining two will start running with a gap of two months each.
He said work on the 1,300MW Tarbela-4 extension project was also in full swing, which would help the government provide cheap electricity to the people.
Responding to a question, the minister said all the 10 power distribution companies were being run experimentally on full load.
Speaking about suspension of gas supply to the industrial sector of Punjab, the state minister asked the business community to prepare a comprehensive agenda so that he could arrange their meeting with the ministers concerned.
He also supported the demand to upgrade the Punjab Medical College into a university and revealed that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during his visit to Faisalabad would make an announcement for the construction of Pindi-Bhatian-Wazirabad motorway and a double railway track for Faisalabad.
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Faisalabad Electric Supply Company Chief Executive Officer Rasheed Ahmed Aslam added that on the directive of the power minister, two new grid stations of 40MW each were being constructed at the steam power station and Abdullahpur. These would help to lessen the burden on existing overloaded grid stations, he said and added the system had been fully upgraded and was capable of providing electricity to the consumers round the clock.
He said 35 old transformers had already been replaced while another 20 would be replaced within the next 10 days.
FCCI President Muhammad Saeed Sheikh said the government should now focus on the provision of cheap energy so that the production cost could be trimmed and exporters could compete in international markets by offering competitive prices of their exportable surplus.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 15th, 2016.
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