–PPP’s Raja Pervaiz Ashraf questions rationale of establishing power plant in agrarian area
–Federal energy secretary claims power plant won’t harm ecology of area
–Power Division secy tells committee circular debt has reached Rs755bn
ISLAMABAD: Members of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) belonging to the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Tuesday criticised the establishment of a coal power plant in Sahiwal.
As PAC Chairman Shehbaz Sharif presided over the meeting, former prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf questioned the rationale of setting up a coal power plant in an agrarian area like Sahiwal.
The federal energy secretary, who was present during the PAC meeting, informed the committee that an “extremely sophisticated and environment-friendly technology” has been used for the plant. He claimed that the plant wouldn’t harm the ecology of the area.
Meanwhile, Ministry of Power Division informed the PAC that the circular debt had reached Rs755 billion.
Power Division secretary briefed the committee that presently, the country’s installed capacity of electricity was 33,836MW, while the derated capacity was about 31,000MW.
The secretary said that the country was generating about 27 per cent from hydel, 26 per cent from RLNG, 16 per cent from oil, 20 per cent from gas, five per cent from nuclear and five per cent from renewable sources.
The committee was informed that seven energy projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) had been providing 3,340 megawatts energy to the national grid.
He said the Sahiwal Coal Power Plant, Dawood, UEP and Sachal wind farms, Quaid-e-Azam Solar Plant, Port Qasim Power Plant and three other wind farms had been completed under the CPEC.
Shehbaz, on the occasion, apprised the members that he had completed two LNG-run power projects during his tenure as the Punjab chief minister. “The electricity generated through two power plants was being provided to the national grid,” he added.
Responding to various questions by the parliamentarians, the secretary said that presently the total demand of the electricity was 8,000MW to 11,000MW whereas the per capita electricity usage in the country was less as compared to India and Bangladesh.
On Monday, Shehbaz delayed a much-talked about face-off with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and postponed a briefing on delay in completion of investigations in dozens of pending cases referred by the previous committees.
Shehbaz, in the maiden PAC meeting chaired by him on Friday, had summoned NAB for a briefing on Tuesday afternoon. “I could feel on Friday that the PAC members showed great interest in a Power Division briefing, which could exhaust the members before the NAB session,” said Shehbaz, explaining the reason behind the decision.
The Power Division’s briefing had been scheduled during the morning session on Tuesday. Shehbaz Sharif, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president, did not give a new date for the NAB briefing.
The PAC’s very first decision to summon the bureau’s representatives had created hype in the media due to the very fact that Shehbaz is behind the bars in a NAB case on allegations of corruption. He comes to attend the PAC meetings and National Assembly sessions on production orders.
The PAC had summoned NAB officials to explain a delay in completing investigations in dozens of cases that the last two committees had referred to the anti-corruption watchdog for action.
The 14th PAC (2013-18) referred 168 cases to NAB and 68 cases to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for taking action against those who caused losses to the public exchequer. The 13th PAC (2008-13), chaired by PML-N’s Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, had referred 33 cases to NAB and 30 to the FIA.
In the last PAC meeting, PML-N’s Sheikh Rohail Asghar enquired about outcomes of these cases.
Shehbaz Sharif also objected to media reporting and said the PAC did not grill NAB and the FIA on Friday. The cases pending before NAB are old ones referred by previous PACs and the members did talk about the issue on basis of their memory, he said.
The PAC also decided to take up three high profile cases pertaining to previous years. Shehbaz announced the formation of a sub-committee of the PAC that will look into audit objections in cases of Grand Hyatt Hotel – famously known as Constitution One avenue building, Lahore’s Royal Palm Gold and Country Club and New Islamabad International Airport.
PTI’s Fakhar Imam will head the sub-committee, having representation from other parties also. Many politicians, including Prime Minister Imran Khan, have bought apartments in Grand Hyatt Hotel.