ISLAMABAD/KARACHI - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif chaired a high-level meeting on electricity load management in the country here at the PM House on Tuesday.

Senator Pervaiz Rasheed, minister for information, broadcasting & national heritage, Abid Sher Ali, minister of state for water & power, and senior government officers were in attendance.

The prime minister was briefed regarding the overall electricity supply and demand, network and distribution system in the country. The PM directed that strict legal action should be taken against those involved in electricity theft and recovery of dues should be expedited.

He directed that he should be regularly updated regarding the power load management situation. He said that the public should be urged and persuaded through campaign to conserve electricity.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif performed groundbreaking of the first phase of 1,320 megawatt coal-based power project at the Port Qasim in Karachi on Tuesday.

Addressing the ceremony the prime minister said that present government was committed to address issue of power shortage in the country and would encourage the local and foreign investment in energy sector. He said the project would not only produce low cost electricity but will also generate employment opportunities for the local people.

“This project is the fruit of our indefatigable efforts. I assure you Pakistan is now in the fast lane of power generation,” he said, adding, the project is an important step towards fulfilling the government’s resolve to reduce the gap between power demand and supply.

“Port Qasim Power Plant will have state-of-the-art technology that will produce coal-based electricity with minimum environmental impacts and maximum efficiency,” the prime minister added.

With the inauguration of this coal-fired power plant project another milestone had been achieved by the government, he said.

The premier said that it was first coal-based power plant in the private sector and it was a joint venture of Sinohydro Resources Limited, China and M/S Al Mirqab Capital, Qatar.

“Being coal-based the power generation will be cost-effective,” said Nawaz.

Moreover, being a coal-based power plant, electricity production costs would be lower as compared to furnace oil based plants. In addition, the project would provide employment opportunities to local people, thereby, adding to the overall economic development of the country, the premier was of the view.

This is a joint venture of Sinohydro Resources Limited, China (a wholly owned subsidiary of M/S Power Construction Corporation of China) and M/S Al Mirqab Capital, Qatar which will undertake development of two 660 MW each coal-based power projects at Port Qasim.

First phase of the project will be of 660 megawatt capacity and it will use imported coal to generate electricity.

Both phases of 1,320 megawatt total capacity will be completed by the December 2017. Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad, Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, Federal Minister for Information Pervaiz Rasheed and State Minister for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali were also present on the occasion.

Earlier, on his arrival, Dr Ishratul Ebad and Syed Qaim Ali Shah received the prime minister.