LAHORE - As the name of Shehbaz Sharif has been finalised as the next prime minister, it is hoped different delayed power projects will now be completed within the given time because the federal government departments and bureaucracy will have to work under him with ‘Punjab speed’.

Various ambassadors, Chinese officials and different heads of investment companies of China have been commending the efforts of Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif about accelerated development of the Punjab as well as speedy implementation of CPEC-related projects.

It is considered that the unusual development of the Punjab province is the result of dynamic leadership of Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

And even in China, the term ‘Punjab Speed’ is used for speedy completion of projects. Chinese officials say that some time back the ‘Shenzhen Speed’ was known for speedy completion of projects in China, but now it has become a part of history and the future is of ‘Punjab Speed’.

The dream of the PML-N government to end power loadshedding till 2018 also seems to be materialised under the good governing skill of would-be premier Shehbaz Sharif whose untiring efforts brought progress and prosperity to the Punjab. Now the bureaucracy at federal level will have to work round the clock and will be monitored strictly.

The timely completion of sustainable development projects could directly address the prevalent energy crisis and also result in reducing the average generation cost.

All major projects at the Centre have suffered inordinate delays of years, primarily due to poor planning, ineffective monitoring and lack of transparency.

For instance, Neelum-Jhelum hydroelectric project of 969MW whose contract of construction was awarded in 2007 was scheduled to be completed in 2012, but it has not yet started generating power. The same is the case with Golen Gol project of 106MW which was scheduled for commissioning in 2009 has been delayed. In the same way, Keyal Khwar hydropower project of 122MW whose contract for civil works was given in January 2014 has been delayed by seven years. The story of Diamer-Bhasha Dam of 4,500MW is not different as its construction has not yet been started although its groundbreaking ceremony was held in January 2006.

According to experts, delay in 969MW Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Project and 1,410MW Tarbela Fourth Extension for lack of transparency and mismanagement of Wapda officials has caused loss of billions of rupees to the national exchequer. The cost of Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Project has increased from Rs 15 billion to almost Rs 500 billion whereas billions of rupees have been wasted on Tarbela 4th Extension under the guise of accelerated work by the contractors with connivance of babus.

According to industry sources, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was scheduled to inaugurate around six power projects this year, but they were delayed and he was disqualified.

It is hoped that these power projects will now be completed without any further delay with ‘Punjab Speed’ when Shehbaz becomes prime minister of Pakistan.

According to officials, 1,200MW Balloki power project has been completed while 4,320MW Dasu Hydropower Project is being completed in August 2017, 340MW Chashma-IV nuclear power plant also in Aug 2017, coal power project of 1,320MW at Port Qasim is scheduled to start operation in Sept 2017 while 1,180MW Bhikki LNG project will be fully operative in October this year and 1,200MW Haveli Bahadur Shah will also achieve combined cycle full capacity generation in November 2017.

The Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Project with cumulative generation capacity of 969MW is scheduled to start electricity generation with commissioning of its first generating unit by February next year.

It is considered that the Punjab government under the leadership of CM Shehbaz Sharif has become a model of good governance, transparency and development and this is being appreciated even abroad. People are greatly encouraged to see the positive initiatives being taken by the chief minister, including building a state-of-the-art infrastructure for the province, establishing a network of metros and road links, focus on quality education, empowering the youth, providing equal opportunities for women, facilitating businessmen and traders as well as creating opportunities for foreign investors.