LAHORE – Keeping in view the fact that energy crisis caused huge loss to industrial and agriculture sectors besides giving rise to poverty and unemployment, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif Monday said provincial government was planning to establish a fully autonomous ‘Power Generation Development Fund’ for providing technical assistance to launch six projects for the production of 1,000MW energy in the province.

He said that in order to cope with this problem, the Punjab government was fully encouraging private sector in the power generation to get rid of the loadshedding. He said that the energy department had been set up in the province which was providing needed help for the launching of new projects of power generation. The chief minister said this while presiding over a meeting held to formulate a comprehensive policy for the launching of new power generation projects in the province.

Secretaries of various departments, experts associated with energy sector and the officers concerned were present in the meeting. The meeting reviewed in detail the existing power crisis.

 It was noted that power consumption in Punjab, which constitute 50 percent population of the country, is 68 percent while the province is contributing 65 percent share in the GDP. Moreover, due to favourable business conditions, 60 percent industries are operating in the Punjab but the duration of loadshedding in the province is extremely excessive.

The chief minister said the Punjab had the best track record in the country with regard to power consumption and payment of dues and the performance of all the five distribution companies of the province was better than that of other federal units in controlling power theft and recovery of the dues.

He said that small projects could be initiated for the supply of power to the small industrial estates set up in the province while investment by the private sector was being fully encouraged for this purpose.

He said that under the policy of joint ventures by the public and the private sector, 1,000MW energy would be generated from six different projects.

These projects include 250 to 300MW power generation project in Muzaffargarh; 300MW in Rahim Yar Khan; 250-300MW in Faisalabad Industrial Estate; 120MW in Taunsa; 80MW in Cholistan and 30MW in Lodhran.

Shahbaz expressed his satisfaction that the Punjab government had evolved a comprehensive roadmap for power generation which would help in overcoming energy crisis. Rs150 million would also be provided in this regard for the capacity-building of the provincial energy department, he added. The chief minister said that solar irradiation was sufficient in South Punjab, therefore, solar panels could be given to farmers of far-flung and backward areas of this region for agriculture purposes.

The chief minister said that it would help farming community meet its irrigational needs. He said that it would also save the heavy expenditure on tubewells operated through diesel and electricity. He directed that a scheme should be devised to provide solar panels to the farmers on the pattern of Green Tractor scheme having upto 12.5 acres of agri land. He said that the provincial government was also launching mega projects of drip and sprinkle irrigation with a cost of Rs32 billion which will help in economical use of water for agri purposes.

Earlier, Uch Power Private Limited Chief Executive Officer Pervaiz Afzal Khan gave detailed briefing to the meeting regarding the roadmap of new projects of power generation with the collaboration of the private sector. He said that upto 5,000MW power could be produced with the investment of $five billion in energy sector during the next five years.