Senate panel endorses amended electric power bill

It proposes appellate tribunal for reviewing NEPRA’s decisions

Our Correspondent February 16, 2018
It proposes appellate tribunal for reviewing NEPRA’s decisions PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Energy on Thursday approved the Regulation of Generation, Transmission and Distribution of Electric Power (Amendment) Bill 2017 that proposed the setting up of a technical appellate tribunal which would refer back to the power-sector regulator its decisions for reconsideration.

Under the prevailing law, the decisions taken by the regulator - National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) - can only be challenged in a high court.

The standing committee, which met with Senator Mir Israrullah Khan Zehri in the chair, considered two major bills pertaining to the energy sector. These were Regulation of Generation, Transmission and Distribution of Electric Power (Amendment) Bill 2017 and Private Power Infrastructure Board (Amendment) Bill 2017.

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Minister for Power Division Awais Ahmed Khan Leghari had introduced the bills in the Senate in its sitting on January 24, 2018, but the upper house chairman referred them to the standing committee for review and preparation of a report in one month. Both the bills had already been passed by the National Assembly.

While considering the Private Power Infrastructure Board (Amendment) Bill 2017, the standing committee decided to take a presentation from the Alternative Energy Development Board in its next meeting before arriving at the final decision.

The committee was informed that 99% of complaints filed in courts against Nepra’s decisions were being sent back to the regulator for review.

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The standing committee also discussed the progress on setting up liquefied petroleum gas (LPG)-air mix plants in Khuzdar and Musakhel districts of Balochistan.

It was told that though the Balochistan cabinet had promised provision for land for the purpose, so far no piece of land had been made available.

An official held the provincial government responsible for the delay, saying district commissioners were not issuing no-objection certificates for installing the plants. Committee member Senator Sardar Muhammad Azam Musakhel responded that government departments were not telling the truth as there was no issue of land.

Other committee members from the province voiced anger, saying the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) was dilly-dallying the project. Since Balochistan was a backward province, the government should be serious about addressing its issues and give priority to such projects, they emphasised.

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Committee Chairman Israrullah Zehri suggested that it would be better to approach the chief minister of Balochistan in order to find a solution. He directed Sui Southern Gas Company to step up work on the Khuzdar plant as the chief minister would inaugurate it next month. 

Published in The Express Tribune, February 16th, 2018.

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