Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has emphasised having a 25 to 30-year plan to not only cover its current power shortfall but to also generate 50,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity to meet its future needs. He was speaking to reporters during his visit to Pakistan Power Park, Gadani, and Quaid-e-Azam Mausoleum in Karachi.
“The electricity shortfall in the country demands that we go ahead in power generation without wasting a second,” he said, adding that the billion dollar project in Gadani will provide jobs to the people of undeveloped areas, along with benefiting the whole country.
Nawaz said that while the government had resolved the issue of circular debt, it could rise again if difficult decisions are not taken.
“After payment of debts, the country was able to generate 1,700MW of additional power. A total of 16,170MW of electricity was recorded on Wednesday, something that has never happened in the history of Pakistan,” the prime minister remarked, adding that the current electricity demand was 19,000MW.
“The government has to overcome a shortfall of 3,000MW and also make policies for the next 25 to 30 years, to meet its future needs,” he said.
The prime minister instructed to extend the eight projects of Pakistan Power Park to 10, in order to generate 6,600MW of electricity. The first project will be installed by the government itself.
Nawaz said that Chinese investors wanted to set up four projects in the park, which will also be set up in Thar.
“Although the currently available coal in Thar is of low grade, we can bring in machinery to generate power from the same coal,” he said.
Talking about the Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Project, Nawaz said the project will produce 950MW of electricity, but added that it was regrettable that due to poor policies in the past, its cost had escalated from Rs45 billion to Rs250 billion.
The prime minister also announced to build a six-lane motorway from Karachi to Lahore.
Speaking about Kashgar-Gawadar Trade Corridor between Pakistan and China, the premier said that small industrial zones will be set up all along the route and it will be facilitated with highway and railway system that will attract investment from China, as the cost of production in Pakistan was still low. He said that construction work on Diamer Bhasha Dam, Dasu Dam and Bunji Dam will soon be started and will add to the power production of the country.
Speaking about the law and order situation in Karachi, Nawaz said that law and order is the responsibility of the provincial government.
“We are not indifferent to Karachi’s situation and it will take time to devise a comprehensive policy. He added that he had asked the chief ministers of the four provinces to form committees on law and order situation, in order to give recommendation for devising a policy on militancy.
To a question regarding Pak-India relations the premier said, “We want to have good relations with India. It is our wish to boost trade with India and resolve all issues including Kashmir.”
He also appreciated the efforts of Fakhruddin G Ebrahim for holding clean elections in the country and wished that he would continue his work as the chief election commissioner. He also refuted rumours of governor rule in Sindh and asked for joint efforts of all the political parties for the development of the country.
The prime minister’s delegation included Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Minister of State for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali, Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah and others. They were welcomed by Balochistan Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch at Gadani.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 2nd, 2013.