Govt added 3,000mw to national grid despite all odds: PM

LAHORE: Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani said on Tuesday that despite all odds, the present government had added 3,000 megawatt to the electricity system for reducing the shortfall of power. He was addressing the inaugural session of the 71st annual session of Pakistan Engineering Congress (PEC) at a local hotel on Tuesday. Punjab Governor Sardar Latif Khosa, Federal Religious Affairs Minister Syed Khurshid Shah, former Federal Minister Dr Babar Awan and PEC President Engineer Husnain Ahmad were also present.The prime minister said that not a single megawatt had been added to the national grid for decades, but the PPP government initiated short, medium and long-term power projects to end electricity shortage.

“The power crisis has not begun today, the country has been facing the problem since 1993. However, the then Prime Minister Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto had realised the gravity of the problem and initiated projects of Independent Power Producers which were criticised strongly by some elements. After her government, cases were registered against these IPPs and investors were put in jail which discouraged foreign investment in Pakistan,” he maintained.Gilani said, “Our government tried to introduce Rental Power Projects to bridge the gap between electricity demand and supply but some elements again raised a hue and cry and approached court, thus obstructing power generation.”

He said though India, Nepal and Sri Lanka also faced a energy crisis today, no hue and cry was raised as they had realised that the electricity shortfall could not be overcome overnight.The prime minister said the government was also working on projects of importing power and gas from Iran. “It is to the  PPP government credit to evolve a consensus on construction of the Diamir-Bhasha dam and initiation of Thar coal projects at the Council of Common Interest,” he
said, adding, “In this way, our government has put the country on right direction with regards to power generation.”Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani said it is injustice that there is no service structure for engineers and directed former Federal Minister Dr. Babar Awan to prepare a service structure for engineers in consultation with the federal cabinet secretary.

The PPP government has also ensured a proper service structure for the doctor community at federal level to restore their honour and respect in society, he added.He said it was a matter of satisfaction that Pakistan Engineering Council was playing a pivotal role in the promotion of engineering education through the award of scholarships on all Pakistan basis, besides imparting professional computer courses at nominal fee and publishing 1500 papers on various engineering-related projects for the benefit of students and other readers.Gilani said that a mix of three factors such as global recession, energy shortage and the blowback from the war on terror had slowed down the pace of our economic growth. The fast population growth in Pakistan with annual addition of 3.6 million people, which is the highest among SAARC countries, has hindered the economic progress of the country, he added.

He said engineers had a collective responsibility to improve lives of people and work for their welfare.  “The government and all its organisations are busy doing their part of the job, I look towards the engineering community as collaborators and partners in development.”
The prime minister appreciated the PEC for working closely with the government during the rehabilitation of flood-hit people and rebuilding of damaged structures. “However, I look for sustained engagement and deep cooperation to address complex problems such as preservation of water resources, transportation, sanitation, better health facilities, power production, shelter, infrastructure development and communication,” he said.

Future engineers must be prepared to make intelligent decisions in local, regional and global contexts, enabling them to respond to various demands, he said, asserting, they must become the facilitator of sustainable development through the use of innovative technologies and interaction with stakeholders.He asked the Congress to formulate its recommendations in this regard including proposals for the establishment of Engineering Services of Pakistan, and it must also work out a framework to implement recommendations and suggest changes in engineering education, research and practice. – APP