IN the present energy crisis, which is giving a big jolt to the common consumers and a rude shock to the economy, the Prime Minister has come up with a possible way out. Addressing a public meeting at Khushal Garh near Kohat on Thursday, Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani asked the Provinces to build their own power houses and supplement the Government’s plans to over come the lingering problem.
Though power generation is a federal subject yet as there is now the culture of devolution in the wake of 18th amendment, the provinces can conceive their short and long term plans in this sector.
There are many sites for hydel power generation, which is the cheapest source of energy, in Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa and Gilgit-Baltistan and if the Federal Government provide an enabling environment, they can go in a big way to harness these resources. Similarly Sindh and Balochistan have unexploited coal reserves and technology is there to benefit from them. It is satisfying that the Finance Minister has promised the release of Rs 900 million for the Thar Coal gasification project which will initially produce 100MW of electricity through conversion of coal into gas. Dr Samar Mubarakmand, who is heading the project has stated that by the second week of September, he would be able to open the lid of the gasification project which is very encouraging. However to fully exploit the Thar coal reserves, huge investment is needed and the Government will have to find resources to meet our future needs because the economy, which is suffering due to power shortage, cannot take off until the country is able to ensure uninterrupted electricity supply. For the power plant from Syngas, an amount of Rs8.9 billion is needed. Regrettably for this vital project no funds were allocated in the budget in the last financial year and this year too only Rs5 million were originally allocated against the demand of Rs5.7 billion. We appreciate that the Finance Minister finally accepted the demand of Rs900 million for import of machinery and equipment. Thar coal reserves, estimated at 175 billion tons, have the potential to generate 50,000 megawatts. We would therefore impress upon the government to ensure availability of necessary funds for the Thar coal and hydel projects in the provinces as this is the way out to overcome the energy crisis.