Thursday October 28, 2021

NRTC to procure 250 electric buses for Karachi, other cities

September 24, 2021
NRTC to procure 250 electric buses for Karachi, other cities

KARACHI: The Sindh cabinet, while expressing serious reservations over the unilateral decision of the federal cabinet to amend the Alternative and Renewable Energy (ARE) Policy 2019, earlier approved by the Council of Common Interests (CCI), has decided to refer the matter to the joint sitting of Parliament. The policy excluded several cheap alternative energy projects of Sindh and included costly hydro-power projects.

“The federal cabinet or the cabinet committee on energy is not the competent forum to amend any policy approved by the CCI, therefore, we will refer the matter to the joint session of the parliament for decision like we earlier did in the case of census issue," said Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah while chairing the meeting of Sindh cabinet at the CM House on Wednesday.

Sindh Energy Minister Imtiaz Shaikh, while briefing the cabinet, said the NTDC had submitted Indicative Generation Capacity Expansion Plan (IGCEP)-2047 in April, 2020 based on certain assumptions but it was withdrawn on the objections raised by the NEPRA. He further said after a public hearing, the NEPRA directed the NTDC to update the plan.

The Ministry of Energy (MoE), Power Division, presented the IGCEP 2021-30 Assumption Set to the Cabinet Committee on Energy (CCoE) on April 20 this year and the same was approved on April 22.

The meeting was told that the CCI in its 47th meeting approved the National Electricity Policy (NEP) on June 21 mandating that the IGCEP 2021 would be approved by the CCI. Accordingly, the Assumption Set was circulated among the provinces for the inputs/comments, so that the same may be processed/considered.

The Sindh chief minister said his government believes that the CCoE or the Federal Cabinet’s decision couldn’t unilaterally amend the ARE Policy 2019, which was approved by the CCI. He added that the hydro-power projects were not a part of ARE Policy 2019. “The scope of ARE Policy 2019 covers technologies such as biogas, biomass, energy from waste, geothermal, hydrogen, synthetic gas, ocean/tidal wave energy, solar, storage technologies, wind and hybrid of all these technologies,” he elaborated.

The chief minister said the presumed unilateral inclusion of hydro-power in the ARE Policy 2019 would destroy the whole structure of the policy, which was based on least cost and competitive bidding principles. Therefore, a separate policy and targets should be introduced for the hydro-power projects, he suggested.

Sindh Transport Minister Awais Qadir Shah told the cabinet that the chief minister had already allocated eight billion rupees in 2020-21 and Rs6.4 billion in 2021-22 for the procurement of 250 Diesel Hybrid Electric Buses under Sindh’s Intra-district Peoples Bus Service Project for Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Larkana, Mirpurkhas and Shaheed Benazirabad.

The cabinet approved to award the project to the NRTC to procure the buses by December and invest three billion rupees on the development of infrastructure, such as establishment of depots, bus stops and operation of the buses.

The chief minister termed it good news for the people of the province, particularly the residents of Karachi. Adviser to the CM on Agriculture Manzoor Wassan told the cabinet that the federal government has approved subsidies for the farmers during the Kharif crop. He added that on the fertilisers for rice and cotton cultivation, the subsidy would be given at the rate of Rs1,500 per acre, in which the federal government would give 75 percent share or Rs2.7 billion and the provincial government would share 25 percent cost or Rs902 million.

Similarly, the subsidy on cotton and rice seed would be given at Rs1,200 per acre and the subsidy for white fly control would beat Rs1,200 per acre. He said the Board of Revenue (BoR) has collected the data of farmers at the taluka level and the growers have been categorised in two slabs, one to 16 acres and 16 to 50 acres of the arable land. He said the Sindh Bank has designed an E-card and has furnished a list of designated branches for giving subsidies. He proposed to name the E-card as ‘Peoples Hari Card’, which the cabinet approved.

Sindh Food Minister Mukesh Kumar Chawla told the cabinet that 33,917.41 tonnes of wheat was lying in the godowns of Naushahroferoze and Kashmore, where the concerned food department officers had stored the grain without approval of the department.

Therefore, the NAB has sealed the godowns and is not allowing to lift the wheat. He said if the wheat was not lifted, the grain would be infested. The cabinet authorised the food minister to talk to the NAB and get the grain released.

The cabinet at the request of the Sindh Local Government Department allowed the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) to sign an MoU with the K-Electric for the collection of Conservancy and Fires Taxes from Karachi through the electricity bills. KMC Administrator, Murtaza Wahab, briefed the cabinet on the proposed collection of the taxes and said their rates would be reduced, so that minimum burden could be passed on to citizens. He further said his objective was to strengthen the KMC financially.

The cabinet was told that to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Pak-China diplomatic relations, the Sindh government has decided to declare the sister province relationship between Sindh and Hubei province of China.

The cabinet approved the sister city relationship between Karachi and Shenyang, Tianjin and Chongqing municipalities. The sister city relationship between Badin and Sukkur with Kunming and the sister relationship between Thatta and Zhanjiang were also approved. The cabinet approved renaming of Khan Chowrangi, Clifton, as Pak-China Frindship Square.