KARACHI: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari claimed on Wednesday that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had scrapped agreements for 25,000MW worth of power production facilities signed and approved by his late mother Benazir Bhutto during her tenure as the prime minister just because of his “political shortsightedness”.
The PPP chief was speaking at the inauguration of a 100MW gas-fired power project in Nooriabad.
With the power project that comprises two power plants of 50 MW each becoming operational, Sindh has become the first province of the country which is generating its own power using 95 kilometres of transmission lines.
The provincial government has inked an agreement with the K-Electric to sell electricity from Nooriabad to the company to help overcome the power crisis in Karachi.
Bilawal said the PPP had never played politics on national development.
“My mother [Benazir Bhutto] had signed and approved pacts for 25,000MW power projects but Mian Sahib [Prime Minister Sharif] scrapped them and and plunged the country into darkness,” he added.
“He (the prime minister) will be ousted from his post after the joint investigation team for the Panama Papers case finishes its probe and if he somehow escapes that, the masses will oust him.”
The PPP chief said conspiracies were hatched when the Sindh government had formed its own power department and transmission and dispatch company.
“But with the grace of God, both the power department and the transmission and dispatch company have successfully set up a power plant and installed a transmission line,” he added.
Speaking on the occasion, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah congratulated the people of Sindh for the province’s first major plant and its own transmission line.
He added that the Nooriabad power project was conceived by the then-president Asif Ali Zardari.
“It was first planned to set up the project on abandoned gas fields. But the federal government not only refused to hand over the abandoned gas fields to us, but at one stage was also reluctant to provide gas for the project,” he maintained.
The chief minister further said that when the project was nearing completion, Hyderabad Electric Supply Company (Hesco) had refused to buy power from it by “absurdly” saying that it had surplus electricity for the area it catered to.
“This is something that Hesco should be ashamed of,” he added.
Shah warned Hesco and the Sukkur Electricity Supply Company to improve their performance or expect action to be taken against them.
He said besides a major investment in the development of Thar Coalfield Block-II, the Sindh government had put in a great deal of effort for developing the Nooriabad power project on a public-private-partnership basis.
The private partner is Technomen Kinetics, an engineering, procurement, and construction contractor for mega industrial projects.
Nooriabad is about 85 km from Karachi and is connected to the city by a highway.
The chief minister said the 95-kilometre special purpose transmission line was also funded by the provincial government through the Sindh Transmission and Dispatch Company and completed at a cost of Rs2 billion.
Shah added that gas was being allocated for the project through a decision made by the Economic Coordination Committee.
“A pipeline to provide 20 million standard cubic feet per day gas to the project is needed for producing 100 MW,” he explained. “Around 50 acres have already been acquired for this by the companies involved in the project.”
Talking about the ownership structure of the project, the chief minister said that the project had been established through two special purpose companies – Sindh Nooriabad Power Company and Sindh Nooriabad Power Company Phase II.
He added that Sindh government possessed 49 per cent of the equity and Technomen Kinetics (Private) Limited held 51 per cent.
Giving details of the financing structure, Shah said the project was funded through 80 per cent debt and 20 per cent equity. He added that the debt was being provided by the National Bank of Pakistan, the Sindh Bank and the Sindh Government Employees Pension Fund. Overall, the project would cost $130 million.
The chief minister said with the project becoming operational, load-shedding in Karachi will reduce significantly and the electricity tariff rate will also drop.
“It is heartening to note that the 40 million standard cubic feet per day regasified liquefied natural gas has been allocated for setting up 225 MW project in Karachi to further reduce the shortfall,” he noted.
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