The Punjab Energy Department was established to enhance energy security of the largest province of Pakistan and fuel economic growth by creating an environment that would reliably meet the energy demands of all the sectors of Punjab’s economy through a sustainable and affordable energy mix and of course, its efficient use. That was the vision behind establishing this pivotal public sector department, but then things drifted away from the original goals and objectives.

Vested interests, centralised and controlled administration or a one-man show in Punjab resulted into expensive foreign fuel-run mega projects, frauds and massive managerial and administrative issues. During ten years of the previous regime, the department had a minister for only six months! That was the level of seriousness and governance by the PML-N regime in Punjab. The prevailing state of affairs made it clear to me that the Energy Department itself needs to be energised to live up to its true potential.

Almost two years ago when I took over as Minister for Energy, I found out there was a ban on clean and green energy projects and there was no energy policy in place. The department was making progress only on massive media campaigns as this was the tradition in the previous regime. Companies were incurring huge losses, especially the Punjab Power Development Company (PPDCL), which alone had incurred a loss of Rs350 million over a decade since its inception in 2008. Small hydel projects which should have been completed much earlier were put into cold storage.

The much-talked-about Punjab Thermal Power Plant at Haveli Bahadur Shah had not been given gas by SNGPL. It is just like you purchase an aeroplane but don’t have the fuel to fly it. The whole department was in shambles. My first priority was to save public money by completing incomplete and neglected projects in the department. Also, we decided to retrieve stolen public money worth Rs234 million from Mr Ikram Naveed, Ex-CFO of PPDL who had embezzled this amount together with Mr Ali Imran, the son-in-law of Ex-CM Punjab, Mr Shehbaz Sharif. We set our target to convert loss-incurring entities into profit-making public sector assets.

After two years, we have been able to retrieve stolen money from PPDCL with the help of NAB. The same company that was continuously incurring losses for the last ten years has turned into a profit-making asset. PPDL earned Rs193 million during my first year as Minister of Energy due to better management and Rs217 million during the current Financial Year (FY), which is a huge achievement. Similarly, in Quaid-e-Azam Solar, we saved Rs 62 million by rationalising staff, better administration and continuous vigilance. It earned a profit of Rs2.44 billion which is 37 percent higher than the previous year.

As far as the hydel projects are concerned, the 7.46 MW hydropower plant Marala and the 2.82 MW hydropower plant Pakpattan have been completed and inaugurated. However, the 5.38 MW hydropower project at Chianwali and 4.08MW Deg Outfall hydropower projects will be completed by October this year. We have also identified 786 sites for mini hydel projects on various canals in Punjab with a potential of 846.379 MW to promote production of clean and cheap energy from indigenous resources. Presently, the department is facilitating 18 hydropower projects with a capacity of 264.21 MW on canals, streams and rivers, including the 135MW Taunsa hydropower project.

Meanwhile, we have started a massive anti-theft campaign against electricity theft and the results have been extremely positive. Since its start in September, 2018, we have detected electricity theft worth Rs4.937 billion out of which Rs3.315 billion have been recovered. In the future, we are going for a home solar solution policy with promotion of net metering, energy efficient buildings to reduce the burden from the national grid. Our main thrust will be on projects based on alternative energy resources to provide cheap and clean energy to our needs.

Last but not the least, the Energy Department, with its thorough professional and immensely hardworking team of officers, engineers and other technical or administrative staff in the administrative department and lower formations is working with missionary zeal towards building a Naya Pakistan as per the vision of our leadership. Long Live Pakistan!