LAHORE: To provide cheap electricity to people in Bahawalpur, the Punjab government has reigned in a Turkish company to set up a 100MW solar power plant at Quaid-e-Azam Solar Park within the stipulated time of six months.
Under the agreement signed on Thursday between Punjab and Zorlu Enerji Holding, the Turkish firm will provide electricity at a rate of six cents per unit.
Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif was the chief guest at the signing ceremony held in Model Town, where provincial ministers, Turkish Counsel General Serdar Deniz and Zorlu Energi Holding’s representatives were also present.
While the government has allowed six months for the completion of the power project, Shehbaz urged the Turkish firm to complete this plant in four months. The government also handed over the documents of the land to the company.
The chief minister said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on his recent trip to Pakistan had assured him of all-out support to end power outages in the country. He added that other Turkish companies were ready to establish more projects in Punjab.
Terming the agreement a ‘welcome step’, Shehbaz said this project was the first move towards ending the energy crises, which is the main reason for the tattered economy of Pakistan.
He criticised the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) for keeping rates of electricity on the high end, hoping solar projects would help to reduce the prices determined by the power regulatory authority.
The CM said that earning profit should never be the priority of any government institution and rather it should be public service.
Despite long marches and sit-ins, Shehbaz said, the government had already completed a 100MW solar power project and was working on a 3,600MW gas power project also.
During his speech, he also bashed leaders of the both the leading political parties, saying the nation was aware of the smear campaign against the PML-N government.
“Mr Niazi has done nothing for the people of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa,” he said while referring to Imran Khan. “He has dedicated all his efforts towards the smear campaign instead of serving the people under his party’s rule.”
Without naming former president Asif Ali Zardari, Shehbaz alleged that leaders with millions of dollars stashed abroad were busy making false accusations against the provincial and federal governments.
He appealed to the politicians to do constrictive politics and resolve the problems of the people of Sindh, Balochistan, K-P and Punjab. “Time has come that allegations, lies, hypocrisy and wrong statements should be avoided and work is actually done for the welfare of the people,” Shehbaz said.
He also stressed the need for setting up low-cost energy projects so that electricity could be provided to the people at cheaper rates. By June, he added, 1,320MW Sahiwal coal power project will be completed and work on two hydel projects of 4,000MW and 4,500MW was also under way.
The Zorlu CEO expressed the hope that more similar projects would be established and promised that every effort would be made to complete this project before six months. “Pakistan is our second home and a number of Turk companies are already working with the Punjab government,” he added.
Turk Consul General said the agreement signed between Turk Company and Punjab government would result in enhancing economic cooperation between the two countries.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 27th, 2017.