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Officials behind last year’s countrywide power outage to face music: minister

Officials behind last year’s countrywide power outage to face music: minister

HYDERABAD: Federal Minister for Energy Khurram Dastagir Khan said on Thursday that in an internal enquiry into the October 2022’s countrywide breakdown, Nepra had found that 26-year-old conductors were used in the system by the National Transmission and Despatch Company (NTDC) in 2019, which led to the incident.

Nepra was finalising the probe against those responsible for the fiasco, he said while speaking to journalists at the inauguration of 500kV Thar-Matiari transmission line here at a local hotel. The handing over of power distribution companies to the provinces had been started, he added.

Present at the inauguration were NTDC Managing Director Dr Rana Abdul Jabbar Khan, Hyderabad Electric Supply Company (Hesco) CEO Muzaffar Abbasi, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Sindh president Shah Mohammad Shah and others.

The federal minister praised the NTDC that it had done a miracle by completing the transmission line in a record time and saving Rs1bn in that vital project initiated in 2017 at a cost of Rs21bn.

He said the 500kV line would be connected with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) part of the Matiari-Lahore project. He said the production of 1,980MW electricity from Thar coal project had also started.

The transmission line was to be completed three to four years ago, but the government did not spend a single dollar on the indigenous production of energy, he said and stated that the PML-N government proved that Thar coal could produce cheaper electricity.

The federal minister said foreign exchange was to be saved through that indigenous coal-based energy production in that project. He said concerned organisations completed it in three to five month as per the prime minister’s directives, which was indeed a positive sign and it also reflected on the potential and capacity of the NTDC.

He said that line would transmit power generated through Thar’s coal to the rest of the country. “Now coal of Sindh will play its role in Pakistan’s development,” he said.

He said it was a Rs20bn project for which the NTDC completed 220km-long transmission line between Matiari and Tharparkar.

He said a Pakistani company produced locally the same specific conductors used in that line, which showed indigenisation as well although some had to be imported from China, while another company produced wires. Not only that but the pylons, which were to be imported, were being manufactured locally, he added.

The federal minister said Pakistani youths would serve in those companies which would be producing pylons, wires and transformers, and that marked beginning of the Pakistan’s future development.

He said the government did not surrender to the testing times under the leadership of Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, along with all the national political parties, including the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Jamiat Ulema Islam (Fazl) JUI-F, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM) etc.

He quoted Imran Khan as saying that youths should die instead of becoming slaves. The minister wondered why didn’t those youths serve in those companies that were manufacturing material locally now.

Alluding to May 9 violent protests in the country, he said he was there to give a message that the government would not surrender to those incidents.

He maintained that those miscreants would keep destroying installations and the government keep rebuilding them. “We will keep building transmission lines,” he said.

The minister appreciated Hyderabad Range Police DIG Pir Mohammad Shah, NTDC MD and secret agencies for controlling the theft of costly material of the transmission lines and saving billions of rupees. He said it was for the first time that the issue was taken seriously to lay hands on the culprits.

He said loadshedding by the power distribution companies were in fact to overcome their line losses because bills were not recovered. He conceded that there were issues in the power transmission system as well.

About the handing over the power distribution companies to the provinces, he said it was a complicated job as to how to ensure that transfer. Those companies were also loss generating entities and those losses would also be transferred to the provinces, he added.

If the provinces were ready to overcome those losses, they would be benefiting from it, he said and added that their assets were to be evaluated as well.

Published in Dawn, May 26th, 2023

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