Around 60 renewable energy projects that could generate up to 4,000 megawatts of cheap electricity are suffering delays because of unfavourable policies of the federal government, the Sindh Assembly was told on Monday.
Speaking on an adjournment motion, Minister for Energy Imtiaz Ahmed Shaikh informed the lawmakers that the unfavourable policies have remained unchanged despite regime change in the Centre after the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf came to power. Opposition MPA of the Muttahida Quami Movement-Pakistan Muhammad Rashid Khilji had moved the adjournment motion on unannounced load-shedding across Sindh.
Minister Shaikh said that renewable energy projects which had been delayed included 35 wind power projects that could generate 2,500 MWs and 25 solar power projects that could produce 1,500 MWs for the province. These upcoming projects could generate power with the minimal cost of Rs4 to Rs5 per unit of electricity against the tariff of conventional electricity which is as high as Rs17 per unit, he informed.
According to the minister, execution of these projects has been delayed as the Cabinet Committee on Energy had stopped granting permissions to more such renewable energy projects in the country since the time of the last government of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.
Shaikh lamented that unjust and unfair policies of the federal government in the energy and power sectors had been continuing unabated despite a regime change in the Centre, to the utter disadvantage of the smaller provinces.
He said Sindh had massive natural resources, which could resolve the country’s power shortage crisis. Sindh produces up to 70 per cent natural gas being extracted in the country, but out of 2,700 Million Cubic Feet per Day (MMCFD) generated by it, only 1,000 MMCFD is given back to the province for its own consumption, said Shaikh.
The provincial minister lamented that despite having massive potential for electricity generation both through conventional and renewable resources, Sindh had no representation in the boards of public sector organisations of the energy sector being controlled by the federal government.
Entire villages of the province have been deprived of electricity as the power distribution companies under federal control took unjust and arbitrary actions against consumers in rural areas on the account of non-payment of bills, he said.
Opposition lawmaker of PTI Arsalan Taj suggested that the chief minister should emphatically raise the issue of Sindh’s residents facing electricity problems after due preparation in every session of the Council of Common Interests in order to get them resolved from the federal government.
He added the lawmakers of PTI would fully side with the Sindh government whenever it would raise a just issue of basic rights being denied by the Centre, irrespective of whichever political party was ruling in Islamabad.
MQM MPA Khilhi, who moved the adjournment motion, urged the Sindh government to undertake concrete steps so that residents don’t have to face prolonged and frequent power outages mostly attributed to technical faults in the supply system.
Meanwhile, responding to a call to attention notice, Health Minister Azra Fazal Pechuho informed the House that there could be around 58,000 patients in Sindh suffering from HIV/AIDS as screening of people from vulnerable groups had begun to determine the exact number.
According to the minister, currently there were 15,000 registered patients suffering from AIDS in the province. Two treatment centres had been established in Hyderabad – one at Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences, Jamshoro and the other at the Civil Hospital.
Responding to another call to attention notice of PTI MPA Imran Ali Shah, Pehchuho said that the provincial government had been taking steps to resolve the unavailability of rabies vaccines at government-run hospitals. The main menacing issue was the ever-increasing population of stray dogs and the relevant agencies of Local Government Department should take steps to tackle this problem, she said.
Later, Sindh Local Government Minister Saeed Ghani condemned the recent raid on Karachi Press Club by the personnel of law-enforcement agencies and said that the provincial government of PPP had complete respect for media institutions like press clubs.