Speaker adjourns session after treasury, opposition trade barbs in PA

Updated September 18, 2019

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The Sindh govt has no plans to take over KE, Hesco as both entities are regulated by Nepra, house told. — File
The Sindh govt has no plans to take over KE, Hesco as both entities are regulated by Nepra, house told. — File

KARACHI: The ongoing session of the Sindh Assembly on Tuesday was marred by a ruckus due to harsh comments between treasury and opposition members as the speaker adjourned it to Friday before the one-hour Question Hour session could be concluded.

Only two out of eight listed questions pertaining to the energy department could be taken up in the house as members belonging to the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party and three major opposition parties — Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan and Grand Democratic Alliance — hurled vindictive remarks at each other.

The rumpus started when Opposition Leader Firdous Shamim Naqvi rose to make a verbal query on behalf of PTI’s Dr Seema Zia and questioned the efficiency and competence of Energy Minister Imtiaz Ahmed Shaikh, who paid him back in the same coin.

The Sindh govt has no plans to take over KE, Hesco as both entities are regulated by Nepra, house told

While Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani kept on asking the opposition leader and the minister to show restraint and not to use unparliamentarily words for each other, the other members from the two sides eagerly came ahead to support their respective representatives leading to commotion in the house.

“This is not a supplementary question,” the speaker reminded Mr Naqvi, who disputed the figures of electricity tariff and the numbers of coal-mining and power-generating companies working in Thar.

Speaker Durrani told the members that only one question could be taken up in 45 minutes as everybody started making observations, wasting the time of the house.

He also asked MQM’s interned MPA Javed Hanif as to why he was frequently rising without the permission of the chair, further asking him in a lighter mood if his chair was not comfortable.

To a question asked by GDA’s Arif Mustafa Jatoi, the energy minister said that the provincial government was not providing any subsidy for the installation of wind turbines because wind power produced by private investors was purchased by a federal entity under a power purchase agreement in line with the tariff determined by the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra).

To a verbal query by Mr Jatoi, he said that 25 wind power projects were producing 1,220 MW, which was added to the national grid.

When GDA’s Nusrat Sehar Abbasi was allowed by the chair to ask a supplementary question on the matter, she instead told the speaker that the energy minister was having a toffee in the house, which was a violation of assembly rules.

When the minister refuted the allegation of the GDA member, the speaker told her that she should ask the supplementary question instead of wasting time as the time of Question Hour was about to end due to irrelevant utterances of the members.

In reply to a question asked by the opposition leader on behalf of Dr Zia of the PTI, the minister informed that only Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC) was involved in the mining of 3.8 million metric tons per annum at Thar Coal Block-II, while Engro Powergen Thar Ltd having capacity of 660 MW generation was functioning.

Separately, he said that after the successful achievement of commercial operation date (COD) of Phase-I, SECMC was working diligently towards the expansion of its Mine Phase-II.

The minister said that the SECMC would provide additional coal to Thal Nova Power Ltd and Thar Energy Ltd.

KE, Hesco takeover

To a written question asked by Rana Ansar of the MQM, the minister informed the lawmakers that the provincial government had no plan to take control of the K-Electric and Hyderabad Electric Supply Company (Hesco) to ensure adequate supply of electricity in Karachi and interior parts of the province.

It was informed that K-Electric, Hesco and Sukkur Electric Supply Company (Sepco) were regulated by Nepra through the federal ministry of energy.

However, the minister said, the provincial government was making all-out efforts to ensure that shortfall of demand and supply was reduced to the minimum possible extent.

“The recent production of 660 MW is a first achievement of Thar coal whereas the next phases are in progress and expected to reduce the electricity crisis,” he added.

The minister further informed that Thal Nova Power Ltd and Thar Energy Limited were working under Phase-II for establishment of 330 MW each power plants.

The minister said that Lucky Power Company, Siddiq Sons Energy Ltd Bitra Group, China Machinery Engineering Company and Arif Habib Group were in the field for Phase-III and IV with a plan of 330 MW each projects.

“This will bring 2,310 MW production in the national grid and expected to bridge the maximum gap in the demand and supply and reduce the electricity crisis in the province and the country ultimately,” Mr Shaikh said.

To another question, he said that Sindh had enormous energy potential resources of oil, gas and coal. “It produces 73 per cent gas and 40pc oil for the country besides having 184.798 billion tonnes coal in Thar, Jamshoro, Thatta and Badin district.”

He said that the federal government was lethargic in utilising these resources only because they were in Sindh.

Published in Dawn, September 18th, 2019