Government decides to start 7,100 megawatts Bunji hydropower project

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The government on Wednesday decided to start 7,100MW Bunji hydro-power project in the public sector, in addition to allowing Private Power Infrastructure Board (PPIB) to execute direct agreements with lenders as banks take extra time in processing IPPs. These key decisions were taken by the PPIB Board in its meeting presided over by the Minister for Water and Power, Ahmad Mukhtar.

Mukhtar, however, exaggerated the performance of PPP government by stating that his government at the end of its current tenure will pass on a much better electricity situation to the next government than what it had inherited from the preceding government.

Cynics maintain that the Minister is perhaps unaware of on ground power supply situation as rural areas are facing at least 15 hours of unscheduled load shedding every day. The Minister claimed that during the government''s five year tenure, it took important decisions for new projects and made the procedures easy and investor-friendly. He further said that serious work has been initiated for generating power through bagasse and furthermore power generation through wind and hydro resources has got a boost during the tenure of the current government thus paving the way for enhanced reliance on wind power in the future.

Managing Director Private Power and Infrastructure Board (PPIB) highlighted PPIB''s initiatives to tackle the power situation prevailing in the country. He said that with reference to indigenous resources, PPIB has undertaken fifteen hydropower projects of around 6,500 MW power generation capacity in different locations of the country, some of which are at an advanced stage of completion.

The meeting decided to execute 7,100MW Bunji Hydropower Project by Wapda which will soon start studies on development of infrastructure, ie transmission lines, access roads, land acquisition etc. It was also decided with consensus of Punjab and AJ&K governments that PPIB shall develop 590MW Mahl Hydropower Project in the private sector.

In order to facilitate and reduce the processing time for IPPs in obtaining working capital financing from banks, the Board approved the execution of direct agreement by PPIB with working capital lenders. To encourage cheaper coal based power generation, the Board approved procedures for development of private power projects under upfront tariff. This will standardise and reduce the approval time once Nepra announces tariff for coal based projects.

The minister appreciated the efforts of PPIB for its efforts to bring in power from the private sector and remarked that 2530MW have been added to the national grid in the last five years. Power sector experts maintain that the performance of Ahmad Mukhtar was a poor and his key focus was on administrative matters instead of operational issues. He changed at least two Secretaries, ie Zafar Mehmood and Ms Nargis Sethi because they wanted to bring some basic changes to deal with the corrupt system but they failed to execute their proposals because of an effective corrupt mafia in the power sector, especially in Discos.

The meeting was attended by Additional Secretary Ministry of Finance, Additional Secretary Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources, Member (Water) Wapda, Secretary Energy Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Secretary Electricity Government of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Additional Secretary Energy Department, Government of Punjab, Additional Secretary Energy Department, Government of Sindh, representatives from Planning Commission, Fata and private sector member from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa besides Executives Directors and Directors of PPIB and other senior government officials.

Courtesy: B R

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