LAHORE - Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif lamented Thursday that Nandipur Power Project had fallen victim to corruption and greed of former rulers which not only delayed this project for three years but also rusted the machinery worth billions of rupees meant for the plan.

He said copper also stolen from the wires of the plant.

Addressing Punjab Energy Investment Conference at a local hotel here, he said a sum of Rs 1.5 billion was paid due to lying of the machinery at Karachi port. He said the interest of the country was compromised by delaying this project of 425 megawatt.

Shahbaz said chairman of the Chinese company talked to President Zardari two years ago for initiating the project but no progress was made. Similarly, LNG project could not be materialized due to corruption and greed of the former rulers.

Shahbaz said Quaid-e-Azam Solar Park is being set up over 10,000 acres of land in Cholistan where various foreign companies will establish their plants. Moreover, he said, work was in progress for generation of power from biomass, biogas and bagasse.

He said Pakistani nation had given a historic mandate to Pakistan Muslim League-N for resolving energy crisis.

Federal Minister for Railways Kh Saad Rafique, Minister of State Abid Sher Ali, provincial Minister for Energy Sher Ali Khan, Agriculture Minister Dr Farrukh Javed, assembly members, secretaries, senior officials of NEPRA, NTDC and concerned institutions as well as local and foreign investors were also present.

Speaking on the occasion, the chief minister said that former rulers committed criminal negligence towards energy sector due to which not a single megawatt of electricity was generated during the last five years which caused an irreparable loss to agriculture, industrial and economic sectors. He said the present government immediately after coming into power gave top priority to energy crisis and cleared circular debt of 480 billion rupees in 50 days only which was an important step towards resolving this issue. He said action was being taken against electricity and gas thieves without any discrimination and that crackdown would continue.

Shahbaz said there was a need to get rid of thermal power and look towards alternative sources of electricity generation. He said a power park was being set up in Gadani where power plants would be established with imported coal. He said all Pakistan Textile Mills Asmsociation was also setting up its power plant in Gadani and the electricity generated from that plant would be supplied to textile industry.

Shahbaz said Punjab government had signed several MoUs with Chinese government and companies for setting up power plants and rapid progress was being made towards generation of power from alternative sources.

The chief minister directed the concerned institutions to immediately dispose of all matters. He said the concerned departments should immediately announce tariff of the energy to be produced from these sources so that the investors should not face any difficulty in launching these projects. He said local and foreign investors should come forward for launching coal-based energy projects in Punjab and assured that government will provide maximum facilities and incentives. He said there was a capacity of producing 1,000 megawatt power from bagasse in Punjab and this process could be completed in one and a half years. He said the power generation projects in Punjab would be completed in a highly transparent manner and no one could dare to ask for bribe of even a single penny. Shahbaz said investors would not face red-tapeism rather they would be accorded red carpet welcome. He said all electricity generation projects would be completed speedily.

Shahbaz said the Punjab government was setting up energy fund for early completion of projects in energy sector. The chief minister said Punjab government had allocated a sum of Rs 30 billion for energy sector and appealed to foreign and local investors to come forward in the national interest and make investment in power generation projects. He expressed the hope that the energy investment conference would help the government in evolving policy frame work for controlling the problem of shortage of electricity.

Earlier, provincial minister for energy presented welcome address whereas chairman planning & development, secretary agriculture, secretary energy and chairman Bank-Alfalah gave a detailed briefing on power generation opportunities and energy fund. The chief minister also gave comprehensive answers to the queries of local and foreign investors.

This energy conference was organised by Punjab Investment Board for overcoming energy crisis, providing conducive atmosphere to investors and generating energy through alternative sources. Commenting on the address of Punjab CM, foreign investors said the way Shahbaz was making efforts for resolution of energy crisis would certainly yield positive results. They said chief minister and his team deserved admiration on successfully holding energy conference in which such a large number of investors participated and assured their cooperation for the uplift of energy sector. It may be mentioned here that, besides various foreign investors of Turkey and China, renowned industrialists of the country also attended the conference.

An agreement was signed between Punjab government and Chinese company TBEA for cooperation in energy sector during the conference. Under the agreement, the Chinese company will set up 1,000 megawatt solar plant in Cholistan. Secretary energy and chief executive officer of the Chinese company signed the agreement. Speaking on the occasion, Shahbaz lauded the cooperation of China in energy sector and said that energy problem will be overcome by setting up of power generation projects from alternative sources with the help of friendly countries. He welcomed the agreement signed during energy conference and said these projects would be completed expeditiously.