New power generation policy for sugar mills soon

Federal government is to announce bagasse-fired power generation policy for sugar mills after failure of the costly co-generation policy. “We can generate up to 1500MW electricity daily by using bagasse as input for which sugar mills need specific machinery which will be very efficient. 

We will submit a summary to the Economic Co-ordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet very soon for approval,” disclosed Secretary Water and Power, Zafar Mahmood in a briefing to the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Water and Power on Friday. The committee’s meeting was convened to discuss the reasons for the removal of elected Chairman of Hyderabad Electric Supply Company’s (Hesco) Board, Nawab Muhammad Hussain Talpur, brother of Nawab Yousaf Talpur, and replaced with Dr Nadeem Qamar, brother of Naveed Qamar, Federal Minister for Defence. 

This issue has become a tug of war between Naveed Qamar and the Talpur family. Nawab Yousaf Talpur and Nawab Abdul Ghani Talpur maintained that merit was not adhered to in the removal of their brother from the chairmanship of Hesco Board. A couple of years ago the government approved co-generation policy for sugar mills which remained unimplemented because of tariff issues and red balance sheets of almost 60 sugar mills. In co-generation policy, mills can use bagasse, coal, sticks of cotton and bio to generate electricity. 

Tahir Basharat Cheema, Chief Energy Management Cell informed the meeting that sugar mills have submitted their tariff determination petitions to the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) for upfront tariff. Ministry of Water and Power issued guidelines to Nepra for early determination of upfront tariff for co-generation policy. 

In reply to a question, Secretary Water and Power informed the committee that Pakistan and India are negotiating an electricity trade deal and New Delhi has agreed to export 500MW of electricity to Islamabad. However, connectivity system between the two countries does not exist. 

“Right now, Indian delegation is at Wagha border to identify points from where both countries can be connected,” he maintained. Both countries have to set up common connectivity grid which will take sometime to materialise and electricity tariff will be discussed at a later stage. 

Replying to a question raised by PML-N MNA, Anjum Aqeel regarding massive load shedding, Secretary Water and Power humbly acknowledged that the government failed to fulfil its commitment on “no load shedding at Sehar, Iftar and Taraveeh” because the two nuclear power plants at Chashma shut down due to thunder storms in Muzaffargarh which destroyed the transmission system.

“Load management has not been implemented as per our plan due to sudden outage of 2000MW from the system because of faults in generating units of Chashma Nuclear Power Plant,” he added. According to Secretary Water and Power, Chashma-1 is back in the system whereas Chinese teams are trying to restore Chashma-II. In Muzaffarabad, 70 percent infrastructure has been restored and the remaining system will be in place shortly. 

With regard to removal of Chairman Hesco Board, the committee agreed to the proposal of Secretary Water and Power who suggested that as Hesco’s affairs are run in accordance with Companies Ordinance, the opinion of Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) should be sought before proceeding further. MQM’s MNA Salahuddin argued that since the tug of war is between Naveed Qamar and Talpur family, it should be settled by the President or the party and queried why millions of rupees of the poor nation are being wasted in convening the meeting. 

The members of PML-N, Bilal Yasin, Rana Afzaal Hussain and Anjum Aqeel Khan did not engage in this discussion. Mir Ijaz Hussain Jakhrani raised the issue of the likely removal of six engineers out of the 30 hired in 2011 because of late submission of degrees. The committee directed Secretary Water and Power to stop likely removal of six engineers and provide details of the case. Chairman Standing Committee on Water and Power Syed Ghulam Mustafa Shah presided over the meeting. 

Copyright Business Recorder, 2012

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