DAWN, Sunday, 24 May, 2009
By M. Hussain Khan
The government has rejected this project and I am making this statement as minister of water and power: Pervez Ashraf.—APP
HYDERABAD: Federal Water and Power Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf has said that Kalabagh Dam project has been scrapped and that he is making this statement with authority.
He was talking to journalists at a rest house here on Saturday after addressing a workers’ gathering.
‘Kalabagh Dam project has been scrapped and I am making this statement as minister of water and power. The government has rejected this project,’ he said when his attention was drawn to a statement of Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission Sardar Aseff Ahmed Ali that Kalabagh Dam project had not been scrapped.
The power minister didn’t answer when pressed why Mr Aseff had made such a statement while talking to journalists after the Annual Plan Coordination Committee (APCC) meeting in Islamabad.
He said that all power projects of Wapda were on time and the shortfall of 3,500 megawatts of electricity would soon be overcome.
He said that 165 megawatts of electricity had been made available and the prime minister would soon inaugurate a 235 megawatts power house in Lahore.
Around 3,000 to 3,500 megawatts of electricity had been injected into the system through improvement in supplies of oil and gas, Pervez Ashraf said. Wapda has managed to upgrade its system.
He said that out of Rs185 billion, Rs85 billion had been paid by the government towards outstanding dues of Pepco against power distribution companies.
The remaining amount was being cleared through circular debt by the government, he said, adding that the government felt relatively comfortable this year as far as power crisis was concerned.
He disagreed with a questioner who quoted Federal Labour Minister Syed Khursheeid Shah as saying that load-shedding won’t end by December this year.
‘His (Shah’s) statement has been made somewhat spicy in media,’ he said, pledging that load-shedding would come to an end by December.
He said that Wapda was opting for hydropower generation in addition to solar, solid-waste and windmill energy. He said that steam energy was also being worked out and a contract had been signed with a Turkish firm.
The minister said that the government intended to ensure electricity for tube-wells and streetlights through solar energy.
About Thar coal, he said the government would go for international competitive biddings and best companies would be chosen for the project because there were several companies based in South Korea, China and Australia which had shown interest in the project.
Through energy conservation, he said, 1,000 megawatts of electricity had been saved.