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Islamabad

January 5, 2012

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Senate panel grills AEDB for dismal performance

Senate panel grills AEDB for dismal performance
Totally unimpressed by a presentation by the Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB) on its performance since 2003, the Senate Standing Committee on Water and Power on Tuesday asked the board to focus on its mandated task instead of mere rhetoric and affectation.
“Never come here again for mere presentation, concentrate on your work, as you have failed so far to deliver,” Senate panel Chairman Nawabazada Lashkari Raisani and members, including Zahid Khan, Naeem Hussain Chattha and Humayun Mandokhel, cautioned AEDB Chief Executive Officer Arif Alauddin here at the end of a meeting at the Parliament House.
Feeling jittery, the board chief promised to return to the forum again only with performance report and a timeline regarding the start and completion of power projects.
Ex-Secretary Ministry of Water and Power Javed Iqbal had recommended to the government to either merge the board with Private Power Infrastructure Board (PPIB) or put under the control of a section officer, for there was no need to keep on feeding what he had called, white elephant, a senior official of the ministry told The News after the meeting. However, he requested anonymity.
The panel chairman recalled his visit to the board’s lavish head office in a posh Islamabad sector some four years back and wondered what the department had achieved in all these years and Arif Alauddin replied good results would come up soon.
“Leave it if in nearly two years, you just could not do anything,” was the angry reaction from Chattha, when the board CEO informed the forum they had been pondering over ways to utilise hundreds of tonnes of cattle dung in Karachi for fuel production but so far could not take a decision.
The panel chairman on this reminded the AEDB head that he had repeatedly written to him about installation of some solar panels on the rooftops of the Parliament Lodges and giving the legislators briefing about the alternative energy sources but the outcome of this one-sided communication was nil.
Ironically, during the briefing, the board CEO could not come up with a single instance of any significant breakthrough in the related field but talked about wind energy and how heavy its equipment was. The panel members smiled of his claim that in 2012 alone, 1.5 billion dollar investment was in the pipeline.
Zahid asked him about his board’s performance in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, when Arif Alauddin talked about a dozen projects of alternative energy in the province. A project, he specifically referred to, turned out to be of a private entity producing power to run a steel mill.
Legislators also castigated the Ministry of Water and Power for going for power generation by oil and gas instead of launching power projects to produce cheap electricity and questioned why no new dams were built in the last over three decades.
They rejected an argument that foreign investors were reluctant to investment in hydro electric projects due to various reasons.
Earlier, Wapda Chairman Shakil Durrani told the committee that physical work on Kurram Tangi Dam (KTD) would be initiated in June this year and the revised design would be ready by end March.
To a question, he contended the design was being upgraded, as there was a possibility of added power generation, whereas in the given scheme of things, it would be producing 84 megawatt electricity besides irrigating 84,000 acres of fresh land and 0.25 million acres of land, currently receiving insufficient water.
The chairman pointed out within four years, the project would be completed and it would cost Rs59 billion.
He agreed with Senator Zahid that Rs100 million was too little for land acquisition and said they would be writing to the government for the release of at least Rs500 million.
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