LAHORE - For the second time in just three days, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif came out defending his government against the averments made by a section of media on the Quaid-e-Azam Solar Park Bahawalpur.

A section of media has tried to give impression that 100mw Quaid-e-Azam Solar Park generates only 10 to 12 mw electricity, and it cost Rs18 billion which was totally untrue and baseless, the Chief Minister said a during press conference yesterday.

The CM said it was alleged if the said amount had been spent on hydel electricity than this 100 mw project would have provided 90 megawatt at low rate. “It is correct that the cost of hydel electricity is low but all other figures are contrary to the facts.”

Shahbaz Sharif said he always respected media and takes guidance from it and accepted positive criticism from it openheartedly. But a section of media has presented totally wrong facts and figures, he added.

He explained that A 100 mw solar project produces an average of 17 to 19 mw and in the day time this 100 mw project generates 80 to 85MW electricity.

In the light of these facts and figures, he said, the Central Power Purchase Authority admitted that an average of 80.5MW electricity was being generated through solar project at Quaid-e-Azam Solar Park.

The Solar Park is cost effective in terms of its development both from hydel and wind projects, he assured the media men.

As to the allegation that the cost of Solar Park is Rs18 billion, he clarified that the project was completed at a cost less than Rs13.5 billion inclusive of tax. Its EPC cost including tax comes $133.54928 million, he added.

Responding to the claim that a 100MW hydel project with the same cost could have provided 90MW electricity, the CM said with reference to the figures given on the website of the Private Power and Infrastructure Board that a new hydro project set up at 7km downstream Mangla has EPC cost of $152 million.

“The cost of electricity generated through this project for first year is 10.2 cent, second year 10 cent and 9.9 cent for third year and this will produce an average of 63 mw electricity.

“In this way, Gulpur Hydro Project is of 100 mw has the cost of $ 235 million and its per megawatt price is $2.35 million which is two times more than Bahawalpur Solar Project.

“Its tariff has been fixed at 9.46 cent.”

Shahbaz said it was incorrect to say that the cost of power generation from hydel project is three rupees. He said the Bahawalpur Solar Project is providing an average of 18.5MW electricity. “If solar energy is compared with wind’s, even then the cost of solar is low. Mehran valleys are also of Pakistan and the wind projects of 250MW have been set up there and its per megawatt cost is 2.1 million dollar whereas per mw solar electricity is $ 1.33 million.

“The average production of 100 megawatt wind power plant is 28 to 30MW whereas solar is 18.5MW.” The CM said that everybody would have to work for the development of the country and the nation. He said these facts and figures were trust of the nation and he was merely fulfilling his responsibility for presenting these facts to the people.

He said, “I will continue to serve the masses at every cost. I can sacrifice my life but cannot deceive the people.”

Replying to a question regarding Nandipur Power Project, Shahbaz Sharif said the Prime Minister took a strict notice of the issues and facts would soon be cleared.

Why a PPP Law Minister during its last term kept file of this project pending for two and a half years, he questioned and said the NAB should investigate the matter.

He said that during the trial test of Nandipur Power Project, 425 megawatt electricity was generated for 15 days but then this project was stopped.

“Why the agreement of its operation and maintenance was not made for which the Prime Minister had constituted an independent committee,” he asked.

He said that a letter has been written to Auditor General for conducting audit of the expenditures incurred on the project after 2013, while its audit would also be conducted from Ferguson. Strict punishment would be awarded to the persons responsible, he warned.

Separately, a delegation led by Director AIDS Control Programme of UN for South Asia and Pacific Steve Kraus called on the chief minister. It was agreed, during the meetings, to further promote cooperation between the UN AIDS Control Programme and the Punjab government.

Talking to the delegation, Shahbaz Sharif said that special attention is being paid to the protection against AIDS and its treatment in Punjab.

Punjab is the only province where integrated behavioural and biological surveillance has been introduced.