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|Kala Bagh Dam which has a natural lake available as well|
Private Electric Generation Companies or IPPs are present in most of the countries but one may hardly find an example of the darkness in the name of providing LIGHT as it prevails in Pakistan. Even the most poor countries does not allow IPPs to enter into their countries if they have rivers and even if they purchase electricity from these Private companies they fix prices as per international rules. Most of the intellectuals quote the example of Indian Punjab where farmers are provided free electricity or at nominal charges but no one will ever tell you that India is providing this electricity from her hydro power projects which costs less than one rupee per kilowatt. From these dams India has constructed a network of canals to Thar and Rajasthan. In Pakistan nation has been pledged to IPPs and they are so powerful that even Courts of Pakistan are powerless in case of these IPPs, because they are also part of Parliament.
How Pakistani public was sold to IPPs that they cannot get rid of this parasite now; for this we will have to look back into the past that who decides our fate and what price our leaders and politicians have received for this. This was 1985 when govt. of Pakistan decided to bring forward the private sector by giving tax exemptions so that until Kala Bagh dam is constructed, the increasing demand for energy may be met. For this purpose Private Sector Development Fund was established. In the lieu of facilitation govt. decided to bear 30% of the total cost of the project. Tax exemption on the import of machinery was also announced. Keeping in view the such lucrative offer Xenel Company of Saudi Arabia and HSPE of UK expressed their interest. However on the wish of govt. of Pakistan both companies submitted a mutual application which was approved on 27 April 1988 and Letter of Intent was issued by govt. of Pakistan. A deal was made according to which for first 12 years govt. of Pakistan shall purchase electricity @ Rs 0.22/Kwh and after this for the next eleven years the price had to be 0.77/Kwh. According to the memorandum signed both companies had to start the project within 9 months and had to complete it within 4 years. In case of any delay these companies had to bear the increase in the cost of construction. Moreover, on completion of 23 years both companies had to hand over the machinery of the project to Water and Power Development Authority of Pakistan (WAPDA). In the other words this deal was according to the international rules.
In August 1988, when so called elected govt. took over the control of the country both of the companies were ordered to stop the construction work because elected govt. was not ready to accept any deal made by dictator as this deal was against the interest of the public. Afterwards, elected govt. sold up the nation to the National Power Company of the UK making the public a fool. Xenel of KSA and HSPE of UK did not protest on the cancellation of the project by the new govt. or contacted court against this decision of govt. of Pakistan and transferred all of their rights if National Power Company silently.
This was the first deal of the history of the world with a private company whose conditions were disclosed. The international privat power generation companies got shocked; they were astonished that whether Pakistani officials signing this deal were drunk or under some threat. But when the world came to know that neither Pakistani officials were nor under some threat because govt. of Pakistan was not running publicity campaign but claiming one of the biggest achievements of the democratic govt. now let’s come towards the new changed terms of condition of the deal.
According to the deal of the 1988 the deal was for 23 years which was increased to 31 years. This term was also taken back that on completion of the project whole machinery would become property of Pakistan. This term was replaced by the new term that after 31 years WAPDA will have to pay the rent for this depreciated machinery forever. Second drastic change in the terms was that WAPDA will bear the cost of construction in full. Moreover, the construction was increased from 823 millions to 1600 million dollars. The price of electricity was changed from rupee to dollar with irrational increase. How much money Pakistani politicians and their officials have earned from this deal of Pakistani public it is incalculable. IMF was included in this deal as a guarantor so that in case of change of govt. new govt. cannot reject the deal. A lower level employee of IMF earned so much in the kick backs of this deal that he constructed a power plant in Pakistan named as Liberty Power. However IMF got aware of the corruption of their employee they dismissed him from services, he sold out his power plant to a Malaysian company and flew from Pakistan as well on change of govt. in Pakistan. New govt. tried to get rid of this deal of slavery but to no avail. However in the coming years following this deal many new deals were made with the private energy generation companies with somehow lenient terms. But in these deals interest of investors was given priority over interest of the Pakistani nation which benefitted not only international but big industrial groups as well.
The second blunder in the lieu of generation and distribution of electricity is that distribution system was separated from WAPDA and all affairs were handed over to MEPCO, LESCO, HESCO, JESCO etc; resultantly electricity theft was reinforced and state institutions also started avoiding payments of electricity bills. As a result their debt of electricity has increased so much that if they pay it they will get insolvent. If there were hurdles in the construction of Kala Bagh dam than small dams over Indus river should have been constructed to generate cheaper electricity. In addition to barrages electricity can be generated from flow of canal water. This was 1995-96 when Engineer Tahir Bisharat Cheema, X-EN MNT Multan Division WAPDA of that time prepared a plan to generate electricity from flow of annual canals by installing turbines at different points. This project could generate 600-800 megawatt electricity which can be supplied to farmers to run their water pumps for irrigation. Thus subsidy given to farmers on electricity amounting to millions could be saved. But here no one is concerned with the national interest. Elite of Pakistan are enjoying summers by installing generators over domestic connections of natural gas while poor are paying bills electricity alongwith surcharges in spite of shutdown of electricity. Another way to mint money has been also added by democratic govt. that is the Fuel Adjustment Charges which is beyond capable of being explained. Moreover, extra units burden of line losses and theft is also being shifted to consumer with the start of summer season. What public can do against this injustice? The only solution is the construction of Kala Bagh Dam. But our politicians cannot accept this as they are not ready to give up their usury; they cannot understand that defense of the motherland is dependent on strong economy which is being devastated by the costly electricity…
Written by Khalid Baig,
Published in Daily Nawa-i-Waqt,
Dated: 14 June 2013.