SAHIWAL - Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif said yesterday that his government was committed to the fast-track development of the country and would not be deterred by the petty politics of sit-ins.

Addressing a large gathering here after reviewing the progress on the $1.8 billion Sahiwal Coal Power Project that would add 1320 MW to the national grid by the end of 2017, he said the positive economic indicators and turn-around were a glaring proof of the government’s achievements in a short span of time.

Nawaz Sharif regretted the politics of criticism and confrontation and said the protests and objections on national projects, for petty gains, were not doing any service to the nation.

“Had there been no sit-ins in Pakistan many of the delayed projects would have been completed by now,” he said in a reference to the protest of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf in Islamabad that had delayed the visit of Chinese President to the country.

The prime minister said the government was committed to take the country forward on the path of progress and prosperity. The ongoing projects were for the people and not for the workers of Pakistan Muslim League alone.

He mentioned the protests against the Orange Line Train project and said it was for the people of Pakistan by providing them quality transport facility at very affordable cost.

He also pointed out that those, who were critical of the first Motorway project in Pakistan, were today among the most frequent users of the facility, but had no guts to admit its importance.

The prime minister said that Pakistan was on the path of progress and prosperity, as a network of roads and motorways were being constructed, along with large infrastructure projects.

The Chinese president during his visit had announced $46 billion investment in different power projects, that would generate employments and massive economic activity, he added.

The prime minister urged to expedite work so as to help the country meet its critical energy needs.

He directed early completion of the rail link, the conveyor belt at Port Qasim and the transmission line to ensure full operationalisation of the project.

The premier said he was equally focussing on all ongoing power generation projects across the country. He regretted that the previous governments had ignored their basic responsibility of meeting the country’s energy needs, leading to the current power crisis.

He said his government was undertaking power generation projects, that were much below their stipulated cost of construction, reflective of new standards for their transparent completion.

He mentioned the work on Dasu Dam project over the River Indus and the Tarbela Expansion projects and said his government was working on long-term projects, like Diamir Bhasha that would generate 4500 MW, Jamshoro 1320 MW, and 1700 MW through wind power.

He said the objective of his government was not only to generate more power but also to provide cheap electricity to industries and mentioned Rs 3 cut in power tariff. The prime minister said 3600 MW of power would be generated through the use of imported LNG and the projects in this regard would be completed before 2018.

He said in three power projects alone, billions of rupees had been saved. He said a similar project at Port Qasim was also being completed at a fast pace. Another 3400 MW project was underway at Thar, where local coal was readily available. He regretted that Pakistan had never utilised its own coal to generate electricity.

Sharif spoke high of the deep strategic partnership between Pakistan and China and said the friendship between the two countries had stood the test of time.

He referred to the Sino-Pakistan joint production of the JF-17 Thunder aircraft and said it was a symbol of their deep friendship and an important addition to the Pakistan Air Force. Sharif also greeted the Chinese engineers and people on their new year and wished them the best of luck.

He earlier visited different sections and saw the ongoing work.

Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif expressed the hope that the project that normally takes five years of completion, would complete in half the time, before the deadline of Dec 25, 2017.

He said in six months time, the once barren land had been transformed and was buzzing with hectic activity and attributed it to the hard work put in by all the related organisations.

He said the project was fully funded by the Chinese company and an investment of $1.8 billion had been made. He, however, regretted the attitude of National Electric Regulatory Authority and the sit-ins by a political party.

Song Taiji, Chief Executive Officer of Humeng Shandong Ruyi (Pakistan) Energy (Pvt) Limited, said he was hopeful that the project would be completed ahead of the schedule and gave details of construction work on the rail link and transmission line.

He said the plant in Pakistan was one of the most modern in the world and would generate power at the lowest cost.

The project is part of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

According to the officials working at the Sahiwal Coal Power Plant, it would kick off commercial operation on experimental basis by December 2017. It would be later expanded to add another 1000 MW in the second phase. Work on the project started in May 2014.

The plant would consume four million tons coal annually and a new conveyor belt was being installed at Port Qasim to meet the heavy requirements of coal for power generation. The coal would be transported through a new rail link to the site of the plant, that is around 15 kms away from the main line.