ISLAMABAD - The federal government has agreed to allow provinces the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity, sources revealed to The Nation on Tuesday.

“The government has finalised the proposed amendments in the NEPRA Act after a consensus was reached between the central government and the provinces,” Federal Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Muhammad Asif told the media after chairing a meeting here.

The sources said that however, the main hurdle among the provinces was the issue of surcharge on electricity and it was decided that the Council of Common Interests (CCI) would be empowered to resolve the issue.

The meeting was held to finalise amendments in the Generation, Transmission and Distribution of Electricity Act, 1997 (ActXL of 1997) in line with the decision of the CCI.

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattak, Balochistan chief secretary, Punjab chief secretary and officials of the Ministries of Water & Power and Finance attended the meeting.

The minister explained that amendments to the NEPRA act have been finalised and the viewpoint of the provinces was incorporated into it.

Flanked by the Sindh and KP chief ministers, Kh Asif also assured that the reservations of the provinces regarding the generation, transmission and distribution will be removed by the end of the current month.

On the issue of the chairmanship of the proposed Tribunal, to be set up under the NEPRA Act, it was agreed in the meeting that the post of chairman will be occupied by the provinces on rotational basis. Similarly, consensus was also reached about the age of members of the tribunal. It was also agreed that the age will be between 60-62 years, the source said. However, according to another source privy to the meeting, said that the KP chief minister was not satisfied with the meeting and said that they will again consult the CCI on the issue.

Earlier, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah told the media that the provinces have presented their reservations to the federal government. He said that the provinces wanted to have complete control of setting up power generation plants, tariff determination and transmission/distribution.

Under article 157-II of the constitution, the provinces may construct power houses and grid stations and lay transmission lines for use. The same article also empowers the provinces to determine tariffs for distribution of electricity within the province, he explained.

“Our demand is constitutional as it was already written there but was not translated. Now the minister is agreed to work upon it.”

The Sindh chief minister said, “We are facing problems in the generation, transmission and tariff determination of captive power and since we don’t have the authority to make decision, therefore, we cannot use them.”

He said that the province has the capacity to generate around 100 MW electricity from captive power, but since the province lacks the authority hence it’s lying idle. He said that Sindh can generate enough captive power which can help reduce 4-5 hours load-shedding in the province. Besides, he said that the provinces are also facing problems in registering Bagass power generation with CPPA. But now the minister has assured that he will resolve the issue, he added.

Regarding the provision of water to the province, he said that IRSA should ensure the water supply to the province as per the 1991 water accord.

He said, “we have also discussed the issue of loadshedding in the province. Some areas in the province are facing from 18-20 hours loadshedding a day.

Khawaja Asif said that the loadshedding will be eliminated from the entire country during the current year. 

Meanwhile, a press release issue here stated that Kh Asif chaired the meeting to finalize amendments in the Generation, Transmission and Distribution of Electricity Act, 1997 (ActXL of 1997) in line with the decision of the CCI.

The meeting took into consideration the proposed amendments in detail. All the participants gave their inputs and the amendments were agreed upon after necessary modification/improvements in the language.