By Azhar Masood
Senator Professor Khurshid Ahmed of Iamaat-e-Islami called for proper management, conservation and resolving political issues concerning construction of dams to overcome energy crisis in the country. Taking part in debate in Senate on energy crisis, the senior parliamentarian said the country needs seven percent increase in energy sector annually to meet its requirements. He said some 40,000 megawatt of hydel electricity can be produced but there is criminal negligence for taking up the projects because of political considerations.
Referring to construction of Kalabagh dam, he said there were credible arguments for and against this project but even the projects which have political consensus like Bhasha dam are not being taken up.
“Our planning commission, political parties and bureaucracy is not performing their duties (to meet energy crisis),” Professor Khurshid added. He was critical of Wapda and said it is highly inefficient and mismanaged organisation with line losses 50 to 60 percent more than internationally accepted limit.The Wapda officials, he added, were misusing 1500 MW of electricity.
Professor Khurshid called for saving energy and advocated that free petrol and other perks to government officials should be stopped. He also urged the government to set an example of austerity for the general public by conserving energy. He said at the rate of current consumption, gas reserves in Pakistan will not last for more than eight years. Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haidery said the government needs to chalk out a comprehensive strategy to overcome the present energy crisis. In the past, he said, no one tried to resolve the crisis which was today at its peak.
Balochistan, he added, is not being provided its promised share of 500 MW of electricity which is badly affecting the people’s lives there. Tahir Hussain Mashahdi said Sindh province was not getting power supply for 12 to 14 hours of the day which in turn also affects the functioning of the hospitals. He called for switching over to solar and wind resources to produce energy.
Naeem Hussain Chattha opined that the energy crisis has its ramifications like unemployment and poor agricultural output. He admitted that the previous government was voted out due to power and flour crisis in the country and the new government has been given the mandate to steer the country out of the crisis.
Senator Mumtaz Hussain said that the country has abundant coal reserves which should be utilized for power generation being a cheaper source of energy. Senator Ismail Buledi blamed the previous government for the present energy crisis in the country.He lamented that despite long debates in the Senate no practical steps were taken in the past. He hoped that the government in the light of Senate recommendations would seriously take practical steps to overcome this problem. He suggested that all government institutions including the President House and the Prime Minister House not be excluded from loadshedding.
Salim Saifullah Khan said that blame game on the issue should end and practicable suggestions be forwarded to the government for meeting power shortfall. He said often it is alleged that power theft is rampant in NWFP, but added that in fact several big fish in the Punjab and Sindh were involved in power theft.
Senator Dr Javed Leghari said better load management, setting up of rental power station and exploitation of resources are inevitable to produce electricity for people’s deliverance from prevailing energy crisis. He said Pakistan has plenty of reservoirs of coal but any policy to ensure their proper usage is still awaited. “There is a reservoir of 135 billion tonne of coal in Tharparkar that can help produce more or less 20,000 MW of electricity,” he said. He said Germany and India are producing 20, 000 MW and 8,000 MW of electricity respectively form coal, while unfortunately Pakistan is making no use of this precious natural resource.
Dr Abdul Khaliq said we are not paying attention to the issue to the extent it needs. He suggested that Pakistan should import electricity from Iran for Balochistan as it would cost comparatively lesser than other measures. The senator also stressed that work on Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project should be intensified adding that it would contribute a lot for long-term solution to the energy crisis.
Senator Raza Mohammed Raza said Pakistan has not invested even a single penny on hydel power projects. He said NWFP province is rich of natural resources but is getting electricity on the higher rates. He said more or less 44,000 villages in NWFP are without electricity despite the fact that the province is contributing a lot in the production of electricity. He demanded that the province should be provided electricity on production cost.
Senator Baligh-ul-Agha criticized the hours-long power cuts in Balochistan province. She said not only the agriculture but also the education of the children is being affected due to the prevailing situation. Senator Amjad Abbas endorsed the view point of his colleagues saying that power should be cut in Parliament Lodges and Parliament House also to make the high ups realize the sufferings caused by the power outage.
Senator Abdur Razzaq Thaheem opposed the plan of the government that Kalabagh Dam would be constructed after taking all provinces into confidence. He said three of the four provincial assemblies have opposed the project so it would be unreasonable to ignite that controversy again in the House.
Senator Khalid Ranjha said that the opposition was not indulging in unnecessary criticism and was presenting constructive criticism. He called for reformation of WAPDA distribution system to control line losses. He said that most of the litigation in the courts was being done against Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA).He was of the opinion that presently there is no mechanism of complaint registration in the WAPDA.
courtesy Arab News