ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered a probe into the failure of Thar coal power project initiated by Dr Samar Mubarakmand.
Defending his position, Mubarakmand said the project was under the provincial government and began receiving funding from the federal government in 2012. By 2015, despite spending more than Rs3.2 billion on the project, it was only generating 8MW of electricity.
Chief Justice Saqib Nisar ordered for an investigative committee to be set up to conduct an audit of the project. The bench also instructed for all project records to be handed over to senior lawyer Salman Akram Raja and the prosecutor general of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). The case has been adjourned for a week.
With zero allocation, Thar project close to being left high and dry
In 2016, The Express Tribune reported a sharp reduction in the project's funds in fiscal year 2015-16 and zero allocation for the 2016 budgetary year and that the government’s much-touted Thar underground coal gasification (UGC) project had been left high and dry.
With its promising power generation capability remaining far from being harnessed, the employees after having worked for several years confronted the outlook of either continuing their jobs without pay or being laid-off.
“We are left with hardly enough funds to manage salary payment for two months,” Dr Muhammad Shabbir, managing director of the project, told The Express Tribune.
The federal budget for 2016-17 did not allocate funds for the project. In the 2015-2016 financial year, only Rs300 million, from Rs1.2 billion earmarked for the project were released, according to the MD.
Mubarakmand clarified that at the time the government had not formally conveyed that the project was being shelved.
The pilot power production of 8MW began in May 2015. But the project’s commercial production of 100MW, as per the original plan, had not obtained the government’s nod of approval.
Around 250 people were employed in the project at the time and a majority of them lived in the project’s colony in Islamkot taluka of Tharparkar district. A sum of up to Rs17 million was being spent on the salaries, in addition to expenses on running the generation plants, residential colony and meeting other expenditures.
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