ISLAMABAD - The federal and Balochistan governments have agreed to install 30,000 solar tube-wells in the province by replacing the existing conventional tube-wells.

In a meeting chaired by Federal Minister for Power Division Awais Laghari, the Quetta Electric Supply Company was asked to conduct immediate feasibilities of the solar tube-wells project within one month time. The meeting was attended by Chief Secretary Balochistan, officials of the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Planning and Power Division.

Official privy to the meeting told The Nation that the QESCO has proposed the off-grid solution for the agriculture consumers which will help control loses and theft. Under the proposal removal of all the poles, transmission lines and connections from the tube well are under consideration, the official maintained.

The estimated cost of one tube-well is around six to seven million rupees but it will help in saving billion of rupees subsidy in future, official said. In the meeting, it was decided to seek the Economic Coordination Committee(ECC) approval for one time allocation of funds for the project, the official informed. “We have given one month time to QESCO to provide the complete sketch for the removal of pole, transmission lines, timeframe for disconnection, feasibility of the project, off-grid solution and cost benefit analysis,” the official maintained. The project will be funded by the federal government and the agriculture consumers using the solar tube-wells will pay bills to QESCO, the official added.

Meanwhile, a press release issued here stated that the meeting took stock of the entire spectrum of converting the existing thirty thousand tube-wells on solar power. The meeting also decided that Quetta Electric Supply Company (QESCO) will also prepare its technical proposal regarding smooth transition from electricity to solar power. It was decided that both QESCO and Government of Balochistan will jointly prepare workable document spanning over the technical modalities as well the financial proposals for installation of these tubules within the time frame.

Federal Minister for Power Division Sardar Awais Ahmed Khan Laghari expressing his views said that Government is paying 23 billion rupees per years as subsidy for these thirty thousands tube-wells and their conversion to solar power will result in lessening burden on national exchequer. Besides, the conversion will also lead towards ensured power supply on affordable rates to the agriculturists yielding in increase in the productivity, he added.

The minister also noted that presently the capacity of these thirty thousand tube wells is 900MW, and the conversion will also lead towards saving of the electricity. He said that all illegal connection associated with these tube wells will also be exposed and proper action can be taken. The electricity theft from these tube wells will also come to a stop, he added.

The meeting was informed that Federal Government is ready to invest in the solar tube wells and will extend all out support in this regard. This step is bound to encourage off grid solution for the far-flung areas of the Balochistan in the near future, the meeting was informed.