Muzaffarabad - Criticizing the Supreme Court verdict that led to the disqualification former prime minister Nawaz Sharif for life, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has said that the people would not accept the decision and they will give their judgment before July 30.

“Nations who don't respect their leaders cannot move forward. This practice of disrespecting politics and politicians must end. The ultimate decision will be made by the people of Pakistan. We will go to the masses who will give their verdict before July 30,” he said while addressing a gathering after inaugurating the first unit of the 969 MW Neelum-Jhelum hydroelectric project here on Friday.

The newly inaugurated unit will generate 242 MW of electricity.

Abbasi termed the disqualification of the former premier for life a bad luck for the country.

“Other nations remember the people who work for them but it is unfortunate that in our country they are dragged in courts and they are thrown out forever,” PM Abbasi said.

He said that Neelum Jhelum hydropower project was a big challenge for the government when it came to power in 2013. He said that only 10 to 12 percent work had been done at that time and there had also been the discussion in meetings to abandon the project. But former prime minister Sharif took interest and the project had come to life now. He said that around $5 billion had been spent on the project and its cost was three times higher according to regional estimates due to the changes in design following the 2005earthquake.

He said that the country has made more development in five years during the PML-N's tenure which was not achieved in the past 65-year history of the country. Abbasi said that the present government had added power projects with an accumulative capacity of 10,400 MW to the national grid whereas no past government could add even 2,000 MW electricity.

He said that the government had also overcome the demand and supply gap.

The premier made it clear that the areas, where pilferage and theft were rampant, will bear the brunt of load-shedding as the government could not pass the burden on consumers paying bills regularly.

Abbasi said that the government had installed three gas power plants and one of them had been made operational. He said that the second plant would become operational by the end of this month whereas the third one would start producing electricity next month. He said that these plants had 62 percent efficiency.

Despite criticism, he said, the government had made Nandipur power project operational which was generating 525 MW of electricity. He said that the government had also worked on infrastructure projects and constructed highways and motorways. He said that government had set up plants from diversified sources as it worked on hydel, coal, gas and wind power projects. He said that two coal-based power plants had been made operational and the third one would be made operational soon.

He further said that the government will have to build two dams in a decade to overcome the water crisis.

Talking about the atrocities being committed by Indian forces in the held Kashmir, he said that Pakistan would continue moral, political and diplomatic support to Kashmiris. He said that he had taken up the Kashmir issue with the UN Secretary-General. The premier said that the Kashmir issue was a big challenge for human rights organizations of the world and expressed the hope that the international community would play a role to end the mass killing in the occupied Kashmir.

Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) Chairman LtGen (retd) Muzammil Hussain said that the project was conceived 30 years back and the first unit having the capacity of 242 MW had become operational. He said that Pakistan decided to work on the project after coming to know Indian’s plan to build the Kishen Ganga project. He said the project would generate 5 billion units annually to earn Rs50 billion. He said that production cost was Rs2.5 per unit but its tariff would be fixed at Rs 9-10 per unit due to the loans taken from banks. He said that Exim Bank of China had given $1 billion in loans for the project and it had to be paid back.

He said that government had collected Rs68 billion from power consumers under the Neelum-Jhelum surcharge and this surcharge would come to an end by the end of this year.

Azad Jammu and Kashmir Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider said that the credit goes to their leader Nawaz Sharif who played a key role in completing the project. He demanded to allocate 250 MW to AJK to help end load-shedding. He further demanded that AJK be given Rs 1.10 per unit net hydel profit at par with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab. He also demanded to remove hurdles in issuing no-objection certificates to foreign investors.



Fawad Yousafzai