State Minister for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali claimed on Saturday that the PML-N government was working on war-footings to bridge the huge gap between demand and supply of electricity and rid the country of the menace of energy crisis.

He was addressing a meeting of the local parliamentarian, industrialists, traders and Fesco Officers during his visit to the Faisalabad Electric Supply Company (Fesco) headquarters here on Saturday.

Abid Sher Ali claimed that the present government had chalked out a comprehensive strategy to overcome the shortage of electricity and in this connection short, medium and long term projects had been identified including Nandipur, Sat Para, Dasu, Gomal Zam Dam and Diamer Basha Dam. He pointed out that energy played a major role in the socioeconomic development and said that the government was well-aware of the challenges being faced by the crisis-ridden industrial sector. The state minister asserted that the country could be put on road to progress and prosperity by ensuring smooth supply of electricity to industrial sector.

He stressed that national economy was in a shambles and could not bear the load of loans any more, adding that the government was extending Rs365 billion subsidy to the power sector. “The cost of Neelam Jehlum Project has been increased 10 times,” Abid Sher Ali lamented, adding that the country could generate 775 Megawatt from Gaddu Power Project within a period of two months only but there was no transmission line to connect it with the national grid. He said that it was strange that despite producing additional power the country could not get rid of loadshedding.

The state minister continued that a vigorous anti-power theft campaign had been launched across the country and termed the electricity theft a national crime. He pointed out that government was encouraging use of energy savers and in this connection 10 million energy savers were being imported out of which three energy savers would be provided to each house.

He said that his Ministry had given a proposal to the Prime Minister to deduct electricity charges from the allocation of provinces under NFC award. Commenting on the local problems, Abid Sher Ali said that he was fully aware of the problems confronted by the local industrialists and businessmen.

On the occasion, local businessmen apprised the state minister of discrimination against Faisalabad, saying that the textile hub was being subjected to severe loadshedding as compared to other part of the country.

At which the minister immediately constituted a high level committee to minimize the loadshedding. The committee will consist of MNAs - Haji Akram Ansari, Mian Abdul Manan and Rana Afzal, FCCI President, the representatives of powerlooms, traders wings, Textile Processing Mills Association, the DCO and the Fesco CEO. The committee will prepare a new schedule of load management within a period of one week. The PEPCO MD will supervise the committee. He also directed to prepare a report for the operation of abundant steam power station. He said that arrangements would make to supply gas to this power station. He ordered drafting recommendation to increase the quota of electricity for the Fesco.

On the occasion, Fesco CEO Dr Rana Abdul Jabbar Khan informed the minister that recent meeting of ECNEC approved construction of two new grid stations in the Fesco region and up gradation of four grid station from 66 to 132KV in Faisalabad and Mianwali. Four transmission lines have also been approved by ECNEC.

The meeting was also attended by MNAs - Haji Akram Ansari, Mian Abdul Manan, Khalida Mansoor and Rana Afzal, MPA Tahir Jamil, PEPCO MD Zargham Khakwani, Fesco CEO Dr Rana Abdul Jabbar Khan, FCCI President Zahid Aslam, Khawaja Shaid Razzaq Sikka, Rizwan Ashraf, Mirza Shafiq and Mehmood Alam Jatt.