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Abbasi declares Pakistan free of power cuts

PM says new projects launched by government can meet country’s power needs until 2030

Gulf News

Haveli Bahadur Shah, Jhang: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Saturday said that the government had successfully accomplished the mission of ridding Pakistan of load-shedding besides launching projects to meet all the country’s power needs going forward to 2030.

Addressing the groundbreaking ceremony of the 1263-megawatt Punjab Power Plant in Haveli Bahadur Shah area of Jhang district, Abbasi said that there were no longer any instances of load-shedding in the country except in areas where cases of power theft had been reported.

Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Minister for Power Awais Khan Leghari and Minister of State for Power Chaudhry Abid Sher Ali accompanied the prime minister as they unveiled a plaque signalling the launch of the project, which will be completed in two phases. Ambassadors of China and Germany also attended the ceremony.

The first phase of the LNG-fuelled project is expected to be completed in 14 months and generate 810MW of electricity while the output would reach 1263 MW after completion of the second phase in 26 months.

Abbasi charged that the power project initiated by the Pakistan Peoples Party government had failed to produce a single kilowatt even after 30 months while adding 80 billion rupees to the country’s debt burden. In contrast, the incumbent government had executed four projects in 20 months, contributing around 3600 MW of electricity to the national grid, he added.

He spoke highly of the Punjab Chief Minister for overseeing the execution of four liquefied natural gas (LNG) power plants, saying the country could never have overcome load-shedding in the absence of those plants.

The prime minister said it was only the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government that had not only launched development projects but also ensured their completion.

Addressing the ceremony, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said the government had got rid of load-shedding and the problem would never resurface.

He recalled that members of the cabinet energy committee had once opposed his idea of new power plants but Nawaz Sharif had showed the political sagacity and decided to execute LNG-based projects for a combined 3600MW fulfilling the commitment he had made during the 2013 election campaign.

He thanked the Chinese ambassador and Chinese leadership for helping Pakistan achieve the power self-sufficiency target, which would otherwise have been impossible.

He said the power projects including the Haveli, Bhikki and Balloki plants would contribute 3600 MW to the national grid by February and urged media to also highlight the development story for the benefit of the younger generation.

He said the projects had been executed at the fastest pace and at record lowest price. In comparison, he said, public money had been looted in the name of the Nandipur power project and the Rs50-billion project was launched without bidding. Even the Chichonki Malian project had come to nought despite Rs2.5 billion being spent on it, he added.

Shahbaz Sharif said the Punjab government had set up a self-accountability system and had no objection if the National Accountability Bureau launched a probe into 56 companies based in Punjab. He said he would be ready to face all consequences if corruption charges amounting to even a penny were to be proved during any of his tenures.

He demanded that those who had looted money on the pretext of independent power producers (IPPs), Cotecna and other projects be brought to account.

Addressing Asif Zardari, the chief minister said the nation would hold him accountable even if the court or NAB were unable to do so.

He said Imran Khan had showed his desire for political vendetta by stalling the Orange Line project for 22 months. Despite the potential for generating thousands of megawatts of electricity in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the provincial government had failed to produce even a single unit of electricity, he added.