ISLAMABAD - Wapda and Ministry of Water and Power on Tuesday projected that ongoing energy crisis would be resolved by 2018 by generating additional electricity of up to 18,000 megawatt in next five years.

Wapda chairman Raghib Abbas Shah said the government would overcome the ongoing energy crisis by 2018 through several short, medium and long-term plans, including constructions of dams.

Briefing the Senate’s Standing Committee on Water and Power, he said government would resolve the energy crisis by 2018 as it already started work on several plans. The government is working on several dams like Gomal, Daso, Neelum Jhelum, Munda, Tha Kot and other 13 dams, which would be completed by 2018 and would add around 13,000-megawatt additional electricity, said the WAPDA chairman.

Shah further informed the government has also started a plan to increase the water storage capacity of Mangla Dam by 15 to 20 feet, which would cost Rs969 million. The Senate’s Standing Committee on Water and Power met under the chair of Senator Zahid Khan.

In his remarks, Ministry of Water and Power secretary Saif Ullah Chatta informed the committee that government is working to produce cheap electricity in the country apart from improving power distribution network. He added that around 15,000-18,000-megawatt electricity would be generated in next five years that would resolve the power crisis. The government has devised plan to generate electricity from imported coal and wind.

He further said that government had issued directions to the authorities concerned to resolve the energy problems of Fata and tribal areas within three months. He asked the committee members of Fata to cooperate in this regard. 

State Minister for Water and Power, Abid Sher Ali said that incumbent government was committed to overcome the energy crisis in the country in general and Khyber Pakhtunkhawa in particular.

Talking about the energy crisis, he said main reasons behind this crisis were non-payment of power dues and theft. “People in Bannu took to the streets with weapons if government asks to pay electricity bills and power crisis will never end if this practice continues,” he added.

He informed the committee that power crisis could be overcome by paying power dues and controlling electricity theft. The government has already initiated crackdown against power pilferers and masses should support this move, he added. Around 150 power feeders are running into losses and Rs78 billion is due on tube wells. 

The committee was briefed that transmission system in Khyber Pakhtunkhawa could bear the load which needed Rs24.88 billion. The power problem in KPK could not be addressed till the transmission system did not improve in the province. There are 90 grid stations and 56,000 power transformers in KPK and among them 22,400 are overloaded.

The committee unanimously recommended no transfer of any official, including the secretary of ministry of water and power so officers could work to overcome the power crisis. Similarly, the committee recommended purchasing machinery - having warranty of 20 to 25 years - so that work might not be suspended. The committee also sought report about outstanding power dues of four provinces and directed to expedite crackdown against power pilferers so that common people can get relief.

Committee chairman Senator Zahid Khan said the provinces should also play role in power generation as it is not the sole responsibility of the federal government. The committee also constituted a sub-committee having representation of four provinces and Fata that could report on grid stations and transmission line of their areas. Similarly, the sub-committee would also report on political appointments made.

Senator Nawabzada Akbar Ali Magsi said the government does not release funds for power projects of Balochistan and floods could be controlled if government releases funds. Senator Engineer Malik Rashid Awan said that there were lot of water reservoirs in Fata which could be used for hydral power generation and government should give importance to it.

Q demands pro-farmers policies

Staff Reporter from Lahore: PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, alleging the rulers of adopting anti-farmer policies, has demanded the government provide relief to the farmers in tube-well electricity bills.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, Shujaat maintained that Rs 40,000 to Rs 50,000 monthly were being received from the farmers in Punjab on account of tube-wells electricity bills, whereas in Balochistan six thousand rupees per month were fixed on this count, which was a great injustice with the farmers of Punjab.  He demanded that the government should charge the same rates for the farmers of Punjab.

The PML-Q president warned that they would support the Kissan Ittehad Tanzeem protest on August 26 if the government failed to meet their demands.