LAHORE - The Head of the Thar Coal Project Dr Samar Mubarakmand has said that government should rely on local coal reserves in power generation as the imported coal could cost as high as Rs12 per unit.

Commenting on the new National Power Policy, he appreciated the idea to create coal corridors and energy cities in the policy but emphasised to utilise local coal reserves.

The Pepco former MD Munawar Baseer, criticised the policy and termed the increase in electricity tariff for domestic, commercial and domestic consumers in five-year National Power Policy an unjustified step by the government. Baseer said the former government had repeatedly increased the electricity tariff but the exercise remained useless.

The immediate step was taken by the PML-N government under the policy to increase tariff by up to 66pc for industrial and commercial consumers with effect from Aug 1 and for domestic and agricultural consumers from Oct 1.

Baseer opined that power tariff subsidy should rather be based on other factors such as household income or land area – as the ‘100-unit’ subsidy has been massively abused in the past.

“They should revisit the whole strategy of subsidising electricity on the basis of demographics, rather than the units used,” he said, adding: “There is a need for a survey which determines household income. Power subsidy should be based on analytical data and demographics. Increasing the benchmark to 300 units will not yield the desired results. Gradual rationalisation of tariff is the key, with an eye on removing the bottlenecks within the system.” Industry exports were already hampered due to massive load shedding and other factors while the heavy increase in their electricity bill would further crush the industry, he held.

Eminent scientist Dr Samar said the government should utilise local coal rather to import from Sri Lanka, Afghanistan or Indonesia. “The import of one kg coal cost at least Rs12 and it generates one unit electricity hence the generation of electricity from imported coal will cost Rs12 per unit.”

Samar Mubarakmand said that the former government’s lack of commitment was the major hurdle to produce power under Thar Coal Power Project in the country but now the technical infrastructure was almost completed and the project would be operation before the end in 2013.

“The former government failed to provide the required funds to start two-year 100MW coal power project 2010-12 as it only provided 10 percent of the required funds by the close of two-year project in September 2012.” he regretted, adding now the project would become operational in December 2013 and would bring prosperity in the country. He said the first 50 megawatts (MW) gasified project had almost been completed. Dr Mubarik informed the project cost was Rs8.898 billion and was approved by the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council last year. Dr Mubarakmand said that the success of the Thar coal project would lead to investment from leading international companies.

“I have heard a Chinese company is investing in Thar but where from the people come for mining,” he said. He suggested that people should be given training for mining in the country.