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January 13, 2018

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‘Inefficient’ PTI govt fails to launch 260 mini hydropower stations

PESHAWAR: Despite tall claims, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government could not start work on 356 new mini hydropower projects in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa according to the schedule. It also failed to formally launch 260 mini hydropower plants, completed in the recent past, according to official sources.

Even the Pakhtunkhwa Energy Development Organisation (PEDO) could not devise any policy in the last four years for formally launching the energy projects, mainly due to inefficiency of its officials, resulting in non-provision of electricity in most underdeveloped parts of 12 districts of the province. Constructed with Rs5 billion, 356 mini power plants would be able to produce only 35-megawatt electricity. The government would not be able to get a single penny from these plants.

Though the provincial government badly failed to achieve its first target, it has decided to launch 672 more mini-micro hydropower stations, and Rs8 billion loan is being acquired from the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Interestingly, the provincial government has not even selected 672 sites for building the power stations.

Energy Secretary Engineer Naeem Khan, who also has the additional charge of PEDO chief executive officer, claimed that 160 hydropower stations have been made functional temporarily and handed over to the local population. These plants are initially producing 10-megawatt electricity, he added. However, he admitted that no official policy had been devised to run the power plants, which was creating hurdles in handing over of the plants to the locals.

He claimed that till June 2018, as many as 356 mini hydropower plants would be completed. According to official documents, the PTI government had decided to launch 356 mini and micro hydropower plants in the most neglected parts of 12 districts of the province. PEDO launched work on these projects in Sept 2014 with the help of local NGOs. These projects were to be completed in 18 months, on March 2016. Later on, the date was extended till June 2016, then till December 2017 and lately the date has been extended till June 2018.

Official documents show that 260 power projects had been completed till January 2018, though the government had claimed in 2014 that 356 plants would be completed in 18 months. The plants were aimed at providing electricity to three lakh persons of the region. However, delay in completion of these projects has created various problems for not only the government but also the locals.

The secretary energy said that one of the causes of delay was consultation with the ADB, as the KP government wanted to launch the second phase of the project, under which 672 more mini-micro hydropower stations would be constructed. The bank would provide Rs8 billion loan for these projects. The secretary said a policy in this regard would be devised very soon.

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