The Punjab Energy Council has given formal approval to a 100-megawatt solar energy project in Bahawalpur which is slated to start generation from the beginning of next year.
Chairing Thursday’s council meeting, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said that the government was looking at traditional as well as alternative energy production methods to resolve the power crisis. The government had set up a separate Energy Department, as well as the council, to tackle the problem.
Sharif said that two solar parks were being set up at Lal Sohanra and Din Garh in Bahawalpur. These would start generating 50 MW each at the start of the first quarter of 2014.
The chief minister set up a committee headed by the chief secretary to review letters of intent issued for hydropower projects and to report on the progress made in these projects. He said that no extension would be given in the letter of intent.
He said that the Punjab government had made a plan to convert agri tube-wells to run on biogas instead of diesel, which would save billions of rupees. The government would subsidiss the installation of the tube-wells for farmers, he added.
The chief secretary was also told to arrange for a scientific study of biogas tube-wells. The chief minister said that the extension wing of the Agriculture Department had played an important role in agriculture development and should be reactivated.
Earlier, the agriculture secretary briefed the council on the conversion of irrigation tube-wells to biogas while the energy secretary briefed the council on the progress of the Quaid-i-Azam Solar Park.
Ministers Sher Ali Khan, Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman and Dr Farrukh Javed also attended the meeting.
Turks calls on chief minister
A delegation from the Turkish Ministry of Housing called on Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Thursday to discuss bilateral ties as well as various projects the Turkish government is helping Pakistan with.
The chief minister said that while Pakistan and Turkey had long been friends, they now also had strong economic ties, with Turkish companies investing billions of rupees in the Punjab in particular. He recalled the assistance given by the Turkish government in relief and rehabilitation efforts after heavy floods in the country in recent years. He said that 380 new houses built with help from the Turks had recently been completed and would soon be handed over to victims of the floods.
The expertise of the Turkish Ministry of Housing would be useful to the Punjab government in launching a new housing scheme for the poor, as well as in the ongoing Ashiana housing project, the chief minister said. Turkish experts are also helping to reform and train the Punjab Police, he added.
The chief minister commended outgoing Turkish Ambassador Mustafa Babur Hizlan for strengthening Pak-Turk ties and promoting the Punjab government’s interactions with Turkish companies. The ambassador thanked the chief minister for his support during his time in office.
Turkish Minister Erdogan Bayratar said that the two countries had similar views on world affairs. He said that the Punjab had made commendable progress under Shahbaz Sharif and wished Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif success in leading the country.
The Turkish delegation included Usman Askan Baik, Ahmet Sahan, Ahmet Al-Bayrak Noori Al-Bayrak, Hassan Al-Bayrak and Binyamin Karaka. Ministers Rana Sanaullah Khan, Raja Ashfaq Sarwar, Sher Ali Khan and Tanvir Aslam, Inspector General of Punjab Police Khan Baig and Lahore Transport Company Chairman Khawaja Ahmed Hassaan also attended the meeting.
The chief minister later hosted a luncheon in honour of the Turkish delegation.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 13th, 2013.
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