Islamabad - Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Asif has said that by December 2017, the electricity generation from Thar coal reserves would be started which would end load shedding in coming years.

After our efforts of almost one and half years we are today issuing our first letter of interest to Engro Powergen Limited (EPGL) for development of 660 MW Thar Coal Power Project, beside this two more projects of 660 MW are in pipeline and mid of next year they would also be initiated. He said that Thar presently known as starvation area, after completion of the power projects would become energy capital and drought would become the horrible dream of the past.

The project is the first and pilot project to utilise Thar coal for power generation and its development will reduce Pakistan’s dependence on costly oil based power generation. The project will start its commercial operation by December 2017. This issuance of letter was approved by the Private Power and Infrastructure Board (PPIB) under the “Guidelines for setting up of Private Power Projects under Short Term Capacity Addition Initiative-August 2010 in its recent meetings.

According to the project Engro Powergen would install two 330 MW coal ignite power generation plants in Sindh near Islam Kot. The coal would be supplied by Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company which is the lease holder of Thar Block-II.

Minister while answering media questions said the government was determined to end load shedding and in this regard, not only power generation options are under pipeline but his ministry is also working to enhance and strengthen distribution network, cut distribution losses and consideration but power generation projects from imported LNG are also under consideration.

It is true that distribution losses have not been reduced so far, it is also true that we produce 14,000 MW, and out of that 2000-2500 MW is vanished (stolen, transmission losses), but despite all that load shedding duration has been reduced as compare to last year, and we are not only working to revamp obsolete distribution system but now we are designing new projects on imported gas (LNG).

Answering a question he categorically rejected that his government has changed procedures and policies to provide benefit to business tycoon Mian Mansha.

Mian Mansha’s Company owned IPP, Pakgen Power Limited is mulling to convert its furnace oil based 365 MW power plant into coal fired plant, to get benefit of one of the most lucrative coal based tariff offered by Nepra recently.

Khawaja Asif admitted that the lucrative tariff was for international investors and for existing IPPs. If Nepra has accepted the application, I could assure you that we are not providing any special benefit to Mian Mansha and we have no favourites.

When asked if other IPPS would request to convert their furnace oil plants (RFO) into coal fired plants would the lucrative tariff of imported coal would also be applicable to them, he avoided to comment on it. Coal projects are mostly initiated by Chinese companies if local companies would apply we would see”, he said.