LAHORE - Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif has said that taking lead in power generation projects, the target of production of 1,000 megawatt electricity will be achieved in Punjab in a year. He said that present government since coming into power has attached top priority to generation of electricity and is moving ahead with proper planning and collective efforts. He said that energy crisis is a challenge for stability of industry and economy and steps are being taken on emergent basis to cope with this problem. He welcomed the offer of Asian Development Bank (ADB) of cooperation in energy, transport and infrastructure sectors. He said that ADB can extend technical assistance in generation of electricity at Quaid-i-Azam Solar Park and laying transmission line.

The Chief Minister expressed these views while talking to a delegation of ADB led by its Vice President Xiaoyu Zhao at Model Town on Thursday. The delegation included Director Regional Cooperation Ms Vicky Tan, Advisor to Vice President Hao Zhang, Country Director Werner Lipach, Deputy Country Director Nian Shan Zhang and other office-bearers. Provincial Energy Minister Ch. Sher Ali Khan, Chairman Planning & Development, Secretaries of Finance, Energy, Irrigation, Local Government departments and other concerned officials were also present on the occasion. The meeting discussed promotion of cooperation between Punjab government and ADB in energy, transport and infrastructure sectors while ADB offered all out cooperation and financial assistance to Punjab government in all the three sectors.

The bank officials also informed about their various programmes. Talking to ADB delegation Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said that solution of energy crisis is the top priority of the government and a comprehensive strategy is being implemented for the generation of electricity from renewable and alternative resources. He said that negotiations are being held with China and Germany for generation of solar energy. He said that a programme has been evolved for conversion of streetlights and traffic signals in Lahore and other big cities of Punjab to solar energy while government offices are also being switched over to solar power under a phased programme. He said that economy has slowed down due to shortage of electricity and gas and generation of power is essential for stability of industrial and economic sectors. He said that Punjab province is facing shortage of 3000 megawatt electricity and this gap between supply and demand will have to be minimised expeditiously for providing relief to the people. He said that progress would be made in this direction through collective efforts and thinking. The Chief Minister said that a separate energy council has been established in Punjab which meets twice a week. He said that ADB can provide financial assistance and cooperation in the projects of generation of power from solar, biogas, biomass, bagasse and hydle resources.

He said that there are vast opportunities of generation of electricity in Punjab from alternative resources. He said that effective measures have also been adopted in the province for conservation of energy and indiscriminate action is being taken against electricity and gas thieves and a number of mill owners involved in pilferage of gas and electricity have been arrested. The Chief Minister further said that rains and floods cause heavy losses every year and construction of water reservoirs and mini dams can help in controlling flood damages as well generation of energy besides serving other useful purposes.

He said that ADB should consider provision of cooperation for flood water management. The Chief Minister commended cooperation of ADB in infrastructure and transport sectors. He said that ADB can also cooperate in construction of Rawalpindi-Islamabad metro bus project and southern loop of Lahore Ring Road as both the projects are of public importance. He said that rapid progress will be made for acquiring cooperation of ADB.

Vice President ADB Xiaoyu Zhao, while speaking on the occasion, said that Chief Minister Punjab Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif is a determined and sincere leader and Punjab has made rapid progress under his leadership during the recent years. He also commended the measures taken by the Chief Minister for resolving energy crisis. He said that further cooperation can be extended to Punjab government in energy, infrastructure and transport sectors and the bank will provide technical and financial assistance for this purpose. He said that financing facility will also be extended to Punjab government for implementation of various programmes while the bank will try to keep pace with the speed of Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif. Country Director of ADB said that the bank is implementing comprehensive programmes for urban development and Punjab government should also benefit from it. Vice President of ADB also offered to convert two villages of Punjab to solar energy free of cost. The Chief Minister said that the two villages to be switched over to solar energy would be of southern Punjab. The Chief Minister also hosted a luncheon in honor of the delegation.