ISLAMABAD - In a damage control move, Ministry of Water and Power yesterday came up with new claims of ending loadshedding, making the issue more controversial.

The controversy triggered on Monday after Minister of Water and Power in a written reply, said that during present government the deficit between electricity demand and supply would be more than 7,700MW.

“The quantum of electricity expected to be added in the National Grid during the tenure of present government is approximately 18,034MW while the expected demand at that time would be 25,790MW,” Asif said in a written reply to parliament. The record is available on National Assembly website.

This statement resulted in an uproar as government has been claiming to end load shedding from the country by 2018. Within no time the news flashed on TV screens and was carried by web editions. In a desperate move to cool down the situation, Ministry of Water and Power’s public relations officer tried to snub media by a rebuttal.

Strongly rebutting the media reports, a spokesman of the ministry said the written reply submitted by the water and power ministry in the National Assembly regarding generation and demand scenario in 2018 was misquoted, said Zafar Yab Khan, who is holding dual charge of Admin and PRO. He is responsible for doling out advertisements also.

The new addition is misreported as total capacity would include the existing capacity also, which went up to 16,890MW during the last summer, the PRO lashed out at journalists, quoting spokesman.

The statement was a shock for media as just couple of days ago, Secretary Water and Power Younis Dhaga, in a press briefing at Tarbela Power House had announced that his department would match electricity demand by July 2017.

“Due to our efforts the electricity generation will be 23,500MW by July 2017, whereas the demand will be around 23,434. While, by July 2018, we will have 1,949MW surplus electricity, Dhaga said on camera on December 22, 2015.

Interestingly, the Ministry of Water and Power, reportedly also presented the same data to prime minister, who on the basis of these assurances made some public promises to end the blackouts from the country. After realising that the rebuttal did not work at all, the minister himself tried to calm down criticism.

“The investors are being facilitated to meet their commercial operation dates by end of 2017 and early 2018. The government is arranging power for future needs at affordable rates instead of expensive electricity,” said a press release from Private Power and Infrastructure Board on Wednesday quoting Khawaja Asif along with giving a snap of some new projects.

The 102MW Gulpur Hydropower projects has started generation, 1,320MW Port Qasim Coal project has achieved financial close and its first unit will start generation by December 2017, while 1,320MW Coal Project at Sahiwal by Huaneng Shandong Ruyi of China is already under construction and scheduled to achieve commercial operation date in December 2017, while 660MW Engro Powergen Local Thar Coal-based Power project has signed financing documents last month and expecting financial closing in few weeks, a handout said.