AGHA IQRAR HAROON

Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif has ordered to reduce loadshedding and cap the situation into three hours power outages in urban areas while rural areas will have it for four hours.

This decision of Prime Minister is not only daring rather an eye opener for those who used to say that Pakistan could never come out of energy crises.

Ill-planned economic structure adopted by Gen Musharraf played havoc with energy resources of the country and natural gas was burnt down without any planning by opening thousands of CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) filling stations. We burnt our future by burning volume of natural gas in just 10 years that could be enough for our next 60 years’ domestic demands. It may be mentioned that natural gas was one of the cheapest sources of energy to produce electricity and wastage of this precious source of energy by millions of vehicles multiplied grave situation of power production. On the other hand, country did not plan to combat energy disaster that was written on the wall. No new dams were planned and no work was done to explore new energy resources.

Situation became further grave during the era of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) that allegedly compromised with Independent Power Producers (IPPs) who were allowed to produce and provide electricity on their own terms and conditions and on their will. Loadshedding was observed for 18 to 14 hours a day and entire industry and social activities crumbled down during five year tenure of PPP in Pakistan.

Energy crises became so grave that it compelled real industrialists to shift their industries out of Pakistan. International media portrayed Pakistan as a “country living in dark ages”.

It was a total energy disaster when Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) came into power after 2013 general elections. PML-N government had no instant option to lit the country but gradually took the country out of darkness. It instantly concentrated upon enhancing power capacity of available power generation sources including hydel and thermal after coming into power. It also went for renewable energy sources including wind and solar power generation installations.

Three years down the road, country has almost come out of power crises and major projects including three LNG power plants (Bhikki, Haveli-Bahadur, Baloki (3,600MW), Chashma 3 & 4 Nuclear (340MW) each, Guddu Gas (400MW), Nandipur Gas (100MW), Sahiwal Coal (1,320MW), various wind/bagasse (350MW), Patrind HPP Hydel (147MW), Faisalabad Gas (250MW), Neelum Jhelum (969MW) and Tarbella 4th Extension (1,410MW) and Port Qasim Power Plant (1,320MW) will eliminate power crises in Pakistan by March 2018. These projects will add a total of 11,131 megawatts to the national grid by the March of 2018. Now Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is confident that significant addition of power to the national grid with the completion of ongoing projects will eliminate loadshedding in Pakistan for all times to come.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif did not plan to just meet existing shortfall but he planned to cater for the future energy needs of the country because he believes that increased power generation would also contribute towards economic growth, employment generation, increased industrial activity and foreign investment in Pakistan.

He is personally monitoring the progress on ongoing power projects across the country and also performs on-site visits of power projects to ensure their timely completion.

Meanwhile, he has directed authorities that all transmission line projects must be on track to evacuate ongoing power projects and distribution network must be ready to bear the load of additionally generated power through completion of ongoing power projects. It may be mentioned that Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif visited Tajikistan on May 11-12 to attend the launching ceremony of CASA-1000 power project. Under CASA-1000 Project, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan will supply 1300 MW of electricity to Pakistan (1000MW) and Afghanistan (300 MW) during the summer season. The project is expected to be completed by 2018. The electricity purchase under this project will help mitigate electricity deficit of Pakistan in summer season. In this period, there is surplus hydropower in Tajikistan and thus the project will create win-win situation for all.

CASA-1000 project is a flagship project and the first of its kind that will link Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan in electricity grid.

“Pakistan is a country where un-proportionate growth of population is undermining its energy resources and massive changes in living standards of population and adopting western style of leisure life are resulting tremendous pressure on its energy resources. Constant increase in power generation and exploration of natural gas are needs of the day to avoid energy short fall in next one decade”, believe energy experts.