Country may face drought by 2025, committee warned

November 26, 2013 2:26 AM

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Country may face drought by 2025, committee warned

ISLAMABAD, Nov 25: The gradual increase in water scarcity is likely to cause a drought situation in the country by 2025 if immediate steps are not taken to improve storage and conservation capacity.

“Pakistan is among the few countries worst hit by water shortage and we are fast moving towards drought conditions,” Water and Power Secretary Saifullah Chattha warned during a presentation to the first meeting of the newly formed Standing Committee of the National Assembly on Water and Power headed by Mohammad Arshad Khan Laghari.

“Unless storage and conservation capabilities are increased Pakistan will be facing drought. The country will have to develop additional storage capacity on an urgent basis,” he said.

When an MNA asked him about the quality of Thar coal, the secretary said quality was no more an issue because technology was available to utilise it. India was currently producing 4,500MW of electricity from coal of a similar quality and heat content, he said, adding that the real issue was non-availability of investment.

He said the government planned to develop Gadani coal power corridor of 6,600MW and the conversion of four independent power plants from furnace oil to coal would open up new vistas of utilisation of Thar coal.

The secretary criticised senior nuclear scientist Dr Samar Mubarakmand and said his coal gasification project could not take off. The desired results could not be achieved and those providing funds to the project have refused to extend more help.

Mr Chattha recalled that Dr Samar had also secured a mineral mining project in Punjab when he was provincial industries secretary. “I used to run behind him and he would remain ahead of me all the times”.

He claimed that there was no loadshedding over the past 26 days anywhere in the country and the situation would remain so till Dec 26.

But the parliamentarians told him that their constituencies still faced 8-10 hours of loadshedding daily.

The secretary said the country’s total installed capacity was 22,383MW which had declined to 18,411MW. The maximum production could not go beyond 14,500MW because of various technical and practical reasons.

He said the country used to produce 52 per cent of its electricity from hydropower resources, 32pc from gas and 14pc from furnace oil in 1985, but it now produced only 32pc from hydel resources, 41pc from furnace, 25pc from gas and 2pc from nuclear technology.

He said the delivered cost of hydropower currently stood at Rs1.59 per unit, that of gas at Rs6.53, coal at Rs9, furnace oil at Rs18, diesel at Rs24, nuclear at Rs4 and wind power at Rs14 per unit.

Mr Chattha said the government was working on a plan to convert four IPPs of 2,000MW capacity -- Hubco, AES-Lalpir, Pakgen and Saba Power -- from furnace oil to coal. It will help the government save Rs65 billion annually.

He said the privatisation of Lakhra power project had been challenged in the Supreme Court by its employees, leading to cancellation of the lease agreement. The government had now moved a summary for privatisation of the project, along with Muzaffargarh station.

The secretary said the 4th extension project for 1400MW of additional power from Tarbela dam was in progress while the 5th extension of 1400MW was under processing because the dam had five tunnels and three of them were currently being utilised for power generation.

Mr Chattha informed the committee that China had offered to provide 3,500MW through the Khunjrab pass. It was currently in the initial processing stage while the government was actively pursuing 1000-CASA (Central Asia South Asia project) because $1.2 billion funding arrangements were already in place, he said. Electricity form the project will be available to the system by 2017.

Source: dawn.com

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