LAHORE - Without mentioning the name of the political figure who made several unsuccessful visits to China to get the assistance of the host country for dealing with energy crisis in Pakistan, Chief Minister Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif has claimed that Beijing would provide assistance to his party’s projects aimed at ending energy crisis.

Chief Minister Punjab, who appeared in the provincial legislature approximately after six months on Tuesday’s session, said that a political figure visited China almost every month apparently to get host country’s help for dealing with the energy crisis back home but couldn’t get anything, however, China would assist the energy projects of the incumbent government.

Briefing the Punjab Assembly sitting on energy projects of gas and electricity, Chief Minister claimed, “We will end energy crisis in the country come what may and I will sell my coat if needed for this purpose. We are depending on our time-tested friend China to assist us to deal with the energy issue.”

He said, “There are two big challenges facing the country, which include energy crisis and terrorism and Prime Minister is employing all efforts to counter the two serious issues.”

He said, “China is a close friend of Pakistan and has been desirous of cooperation with Pakistan in coal-based electricity projects.”

He said that China has always been a trusted friend of Pakistan and power generation projects based on coal would be set up with Chinese cooperation.

Shahbaz said that fulfilling the responsibility given by the federal government to curb pilferage of electricity and gas, effective measures have been taken by the provincial government for this purpose as a result of which electricity of billions of rupees has been conserved.  He said that he and his government would not rest until theft of electricity and gas was completely eliminated from the province.

He maintained that Punjab government was working on power generation projects expeditiously and due to round the clock efforts of the government, electricity would be available in every house of the province.

He said that theft of electricity and gas was not only a crime but also a great disservice to those people who pay their electricity bills.  Referring to the efforts being made by the federal government, he said that the Prime Minister has announced to set up coal-based power plants in Gaddani area of Balochistan and work has been started on this project. He said that foundation stone of Thar coal project in Sindh has been laid and for the first time, it has been decided in the meeting of the Council of Common Interests to give sovereign guarantee to Sindh government for coal mining.

He said that this decision would help Sindh government in coal mining and generation of power.

Shahbaz said that China, Qatar and Pakistan were working on the project of setting up two coal fired power plants of 600 megawatt at Port Qasim.

He said that LNG imported from Qatar would also be available to the industry from November this year. He maintained that the project of LNG gas faced delay of four years like other projects due to corruption of the former rulers.  Chief Minister said that Nandipur Power Project was another example of corruption, dishonesty and plunder of former rulers.  He said that poor nation has to spend an additional amount of 27 billion rupees on this project.

Shahbaz said that not only the plant of Nandipur Power Project kept rusting in Karachi but a penalty of one billion rupees was also paid.

He said that due to the efforts of the present government, Nandipur power plant has been shifted to the site and hundreds of Pakistani and Chinese engineers were working on this project round the clock and it would start producing 150 megawatt electricity from May this year.  He said that work was also being carried out speedily on Quaid-e-Azam Solar Park in Bahawalpur and the contract for generation of 100 megawatt solar energy would be awarded next month in a transparent manner.

Shahbaz said that Punjab was the biggest province of Pakistan and a hub of industrial and trade activities therefore a big project of generation of 6000 megawatt electricity from coal has been announced by the Punjab government.

He said that provincial government was setting up two power plants of 660 megawatt from coal with its own resources. He said that six sites have been identified for setting up coal-based power projects.

He said that there was no doubt that Kalabagh Dam was vital for dealing with the energy crisis, besides other needs, however, this project had been politicised and it would against the national unity and solidarity to start this project unless there was a consensus among all the four provinces.

Chief Minister said that federal government was working on Dasu and Basha dams, while a sum of 12 billion dollars and a period of 12 years were required for execution of these projects.

He said that generation of one unit of electricity from fuel costs 18 rupees while per unit cost of generation of electricity from coal was nine rupees, ,therefore, Punjab government was giving preference to coal-fired electricity projects.  Shahbaz said that government was also considering setting up of energy generation projects from biogas, biomass and other resources.

Meanwhile, Opposition Leader, Mian Mehmood-ur-Rasheed welcoming the Leader of the House said, “Shahbaz Sharif is the Chief Minister of Punjab and he should focus on the issues of his province instead of the affairs of the federal government.”

He said that Chief Minister should focus on the poor law and order situation in the province and also make efforts for top to bottom reforms in the police department.  While protesting against appointing defeated leaders of the ruling party to head the district’s development projects, Mehmood demanded nomination of Opposition’s elected members to lead the projects, besides inclusion of Opposition members in District Coordination Committees.

On a point of order, Jamal Leghari criticising poor law and order situation in his hometown, Dera Ghazi Khan demanded handing over the district to Army and Rangers personnel to maintain law and order.  He said, “There is no ‘law’ and ‘order’ in Dera Ghazi Khan, as the police has miserably failed to maintain order. Notorious and ruthless Ladi gang is operating freely in all corners of the Dera Ghazi Khan district under the very noose of law enforcers.”

Punjab Law Minister, Rana Sanaullah on this point claimed that provincial government was making all efforts for maintaining law and order situation.