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ISLAMABAD: Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Power, Senator Saif Ullah Abro accused Ministry of Energy for failing to control prices of electricity, gas and POL and mitigating load shedding in the country.

“Prices of electricity, gas and POL are being increased frequently due to which it is difficult for me to sit in front of television. There are also issues related to availability of electricity, gas or petrol. For how long will the public continue to tolerate this treatment,” he questioned. He also held past agreements with Independent Power Producers (IPPs) responsible for increase in electricity rates.

Senator Abro, who hails from treasury benches made these remarks during discussion on power-related issues during which he also grilled a senior official of Power Division, Ahmed Taimur Nasir, for his belligerence.

Chairman Standing Committee called security to remove him from the meeting but the issue was resolved after Secretary Power Ali Raza Bhutta and the concerned officer apologized.

The Committee held detailed discussion on reasons of the damage to Guddu 747 MW (block –V) in Genco-II, the estimated cost of which would be around $ 32 million (approximately Rs 5 billion) due to negligence and improper maintenance of this unit.

The Committee expressed its anger at the CEO Genco-1 and II, Sabeeh uz Zaman Faruqui for giving Purchase Order (PO) to the American Company, General Electric (GE) without fixing responsibility.

According to the Committee members and crux of incomplete inquiry conducted by Engineer Dr. Niaz A. Memon, GE is also responsible for the damage to the plant. It was stated that the machine of Guddu machine (G-14) continuously heated up but GE failed to report abnormal operation initiated from 12.30 hrs on February 7, 2021 which proved fatal for the operation.

The Committee noted that the Inquiry report regarding the damage and repair of GT-14 (747 ME-Block-V) was incomplete in terms of its commercial and legal aspects covered in its ToRs.

The Committee observed that the Inquiry Committee was lacking the capacity to prepare report; therefore, the Committee unanimously decided and recommended that a new inquiry committee may be constituted after mutual consultation, without conflict of interest, outside GENCO of high-level experts (national or International).

Chairman Committee gave directions to the Secretary, Power Division to share the names of the experts with the Committee. The Committee was also informed that a sum of $32 million has been designated for the repair and the Purchase Order has also been issued by GENCO-II. The Chairman Committee expressed astonishment at the issuance of a PO when responsibility for the damage and repair has not yet been fixed. He directed that the funds should not be released until the new inquiry committee presents its report.

The Chairman Committee also raised question on the members of the Board of Directors of the Power Division and lamented that most of the members of the Board are neither technical experts nor engineers.

The Committee also expressed reservations on the performance of Board Members of all companies falling under the administrative control of Power Division.

The Committee recommended that Power Division should take action against the Board of Gencos as some members were sitting on the boards for the last decade.

Chairman NEPRA, Tauseef H Farooqi informed the Committee that revision in tariff of Genco-1 is with the Authority. He questioned as to how could he accommodate Genco-1 at per unit price of Rs32 when renewable electricity was available at Cents 4 or Cents 4.5 per unit?

On the matter of the recent test conducted for the post of ALM for PESCO by KMU, Senator Bahramand Khan Tangi said that the test was conducted by the KMU even after the recommendations by the Committee that the test should not be conducted by the KMU. He said that their apprehensions proved correct on account of mismanagement by KMU. The officials informed the Committee that KMU was awarded the job at low rates and test centres where mismanagement took place were re-conducted.

Senator Bahramand Khan Tangi said that mismanagement that took place on three centres has raised questions about the test conducted in the rest of the 13 centres as well.

After detailed discussion, the Committee cleared the tests process of ALM in Pesco and allowed CEO Pesco to go ahead if he thinks the process was transparent.

On the status of previous Junior Engineers whose agreement has been expired the committee was informed that they will be re-tested under the rules.

Matter regarding the IPPs and all IPP projects under CPEC were deferred.

Earlier, in the meeting the Committee members expressed resentment at the non-availability of the Federal Minister and Secretary, Power Division.

The meeting was attended by Senators Fida Muhammad, Saifullah Sarwar Khan, Zeeshan Khanzada, Sana Jamali, Haji Hidayatatullah Khan, and Bahramand Khan Tangi. Senior officers from the Ministry and its attached departments were also present.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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