Pakistan Tehrik e Insaaf Chairman Imran Khan has promised that within five years Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will be capable of producing surplus electricity to be provided to other provinces after fulfilling its own requirements.
In an interview with Geo TV, Imran claimed PTI was aiming at making Khyber Pakhtunkhwa an exemplary province for other federating units in terms of progress and prosperity.
”Within five years KP will be able to supply surplus electricity to other provinces……[We'll] make KP an exemplary province ensuring transparency and accountability in governance,” Imran tells Geo Tv Capital Talk program host.
Pakistan has been hit by the worst power crisis in 2007 when production of electricity fell by 6000 megawatts forcing the government to resort to massive blackouts across the country.
The increasing political instability together with rising demands for power, lack of efficiency and widespread power theft added to the electricity woes. Daily load-shedding reached 18 to 20 hours across the country.
Besides domestic consumers, the power break downs worst hit the country industrial sector leading to laying off of hundreds of workers. The situation led to mass protests against the government across the country and at many places demonstrators turned violent causing damages to public and private properties.
Power crises primarily contributed to the defeat of former ruling Pakistan People Party in 2013 elections.
PTI manifesto under the title “ AN AGENDA FOR RESURGENCE” presents a detailed plan for solving energy crises. The first point on the agenda is re-focusing investment and resources on generation of power from hydel sources. KP has the huge potentials for hyrdo power generation on the running rivers and river-lets in Malakand and Hazara divisions.
According to a paper prepared Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chamber of Commerce & Industry 76 percent of country’s total hydel potential an estimated 45,861-megawatt can be harnessed in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit-Baltistan.
Chairman Imran Khan adviser, on Planning affairs, Sheikh Zakir Elahi writing on the party official blog asked for focussing on Hydel Energy and setting up dams and Run of River projects.
PTI is stressing focusing on run-of-river and traditional hydro power generation because a run-of-river project does not require a large reservoir and the projects tend to be on a smaller scale. The bottom-line is that Pakistan is not utilizing its hydel power potential, writes Zakir Elahi.
Talking to Truth Tracker, PTI’s provincial minister Mehmood Jan reiterated that PTI led administration would overcome the load-shedding crises within three years.
”We will make small dams and find other means to resolve electricity problem,” says Mehmood. He said the provincial government is planning to invite investors - both local and foreigners- to invest in hydel power generation.
“Khyber Pakhtunkhwa needs are just 2400 megawatts which is not a big issue at all,” he said and added that even if the federal government ensure the province its due share from the national gird the duration of load-shedding could be reduced to a few hours.
According to official handout reports Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Pervez Khattak in the Council of Common Interests (CCI) meeting - chaired by the prime minister on July 31 on framing the country energy policy- succeeded in getting assurances from the federal government for assistance in establishing two run-of-the-river projects in northern most district of Kohistan.
Independent view point:
Former chairman Water and Power Development Authority Engineer Shams ul Mulk talking to Truth Tracker rejected the idea of building of small dams for power needs ; and said small dams is not a solution to enormous power crises in Pakistan.
“What we need are some big dams to address the issue…[otherwise]..it will deteriorate further,” Shams tells TT. He, however, said that the electricity needs of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are more than its due share in the central divisible pool.
Shums ul Mulk - a prime supporter of controversial Kalagagh dam - pointed out that Kalabagh Dam has the potential to resolve the issue of electricity shortage in the country. Currently Pakistan has only two large dams which could not meet its requirement.
“It (KBD) has the potential of producing 12 billion units annually at Rs 1.54 per unit - which is almost free,” says Shams and added had Kalabagh dam built earlier without wasting time and energy in politicization of this technical issue there would have been no load-shedding today.
The former chairman WAPDA said Pakistan has so far built about 70 medium dams with average storage capacity of 8000 acre feet, however, non of these dams is generating a single megawatt of electricity.
Pakistan needs to start work immediately on building big dams to overcome the crises.
A resident of Peshawar, Ansarullah told Truth Tracker that the previous government also promised to reduce load shedding within months but nothing happened and people are still suffering day long load-shedding.
Status of promise
Truth Tracker believed PTI has promised to build hydro power projects to produce cheap electricity in KP. Both the provincial government and central leadership of PTI seemed to be serious on fulfilling the promises to address the power shortage. However, nothing concrete is so far done on the ground so - on safer side - we can say work on the promise is not yet started.