Setting the game plan: Govt okays power projects totalling 3,511MW

Jul 05, 2013| Courtesy by : Tribune.com.pk

By Shahbaz Rana / Creative: Faizan Dawood

Two nuclear power plants to be built in Karachi with Chinese assistance. DESIGN: FAIZAN DAWOOD

ISLAMABAD: The federal government, in a meeting of the top economic decision making body, has approved four energy sector projects with a combined electricity generation capacity of 3,511 megawatts (MW). The projects which have been given the go-ahead include two nuclear power plants that are to be built in Karachi with Chinese assistance. These plants will help move energy consumption away from expensive imported fossil fuels, officials said.

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The decision to okay these projects was taken by the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec), which is headed by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar. The total cost of these projects will come to around Rs1.31 trillion. They include the Karachi Coastal Nuclear Power Plant-I (K-I) of 1,100MW generation capacity, and K-II of 1,100MW generation capacity. The total cost of these two projects is Rs958.8 billion and they will be completed over a period of seven years. Nonetheless, Dar directed the concerned agencies to try and complete the projects in less than five years.

The minister said that previous practices had been such that an anticipatory approval was given to projects by the finance minister at his discretion, and said this is a practice that he would like to dispense with. He said he wanted every project to be discussed in Ecnec before it is approved, reads an official handout issued by the finance ministry.

He said that the finances for all approved projects should be arranged in time and that projects should be monitored regularly so that they do not fall into neglect or are delayed for want of resources.

The country’s energy mix has reversed in the last 15 years, wherein a reliance on fossil fuels has increased to 75% from the earlier 25% .

While discussing the Neelum-Jhelum Hydro Electric Project, which has been approved at a revised cost of Rs274.9 billion against the previous cost of Rs84 billion, the meeting decided that an investigation into the causes behind the huge cost overruns and delays in the project should be made and submitted so that responsibility can be fixed.

Certain key officials in the Water and Power Development Authority and some high-ranking political personalities have been blamed in the past for this cost overrun.

Ecnec also directed the Ministry of Water and Power to complete laying electricity transmission lines for the power plant in tandem with the project.

Ecnec also approved the Nandipur combined cycle power plant (CCPP), which has a 425-525MW capacity and will now be completed at a cost of Rs57.4 billion. The original price of the project was Rs22 billion, which has increased manifold due to the dillydallying of previous government functionaries, allegedly on hopes of seeking kickbacks from contractors.

Science and technology

Ecnec has also approved Pakistan Remote Sensing Satellite (PRSS) project, which will be located in Sindh and Punjab, with a cost of Rs19.7 billion. The PRSS project is part of the National Satellite Development Programme for space technology, and its applications will be in the institutional capacity building of the Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission and other relevant organisations. PRSS will carry an optical payload which will transmit high-resolution images of the earth with stereo capabilities.

Infrastructure

Ecnec has approved the addition of the 3rd, 4th and 5th lanes to the Kashmir Highway from Peshawar More to GT Road, including the construction of a new bridge for additional carriageway, in Islamabad. The revised project envisages rehabilitation and improvement of the two existing lanes and addition of one more flexible pavement as the 3rd lane and the addition of two rigid pavements as the 4th and 5th lanes on the northern and southern carriageway of the Kashmir Highway between Peshawar More and the GT Road. The revised PC-I cost for the project is Rs4.7 billion, against the original cost of Rs2.2 billion.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 5th, 2013.

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