• Opens Matiari-Lahore power transmission line
• Hopes for cheap electricity as line losses will be drastically cut
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday conceded that there were some issues caused by the coronavirus that affected the execution of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), but noted with satisfaction that the giant project is back on track as it’s progressing well now.
Addressing the inauguration ceremony of 886km Matiari-Lahore HVDC transmission line — a project completed under the CPEC — Mr Khan said it would prove a leading energy transmission artery from the country’s south to north.
The premier held out the assurance that the execution of CPEC would be accelerated. He pointed out that right at the time when Pakistan’s economy had started making recovery the coronavirus pandemic happened with the result that all communication came to a halt, travel was banned and supply chains were badly affected that in turn hit the CPEC.
He, however, noted improvement in the Covid situation in the country as more and more people were now coming forward to get themselves vaccinated. He expressed the hope that coming waves of the pandemic would not be as intense as earlier ones and in turn, work on the CPEC projects would not be affected but expedited instead.
Prime Minister Khan said operationalisation of the country’s first 660KV High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) transmission line would reduce line losses from 17 to four per cent, resulting in availability of cheap electricity to consumers.
He said the significant reduction of line losses would save billions of rupees and lessen the burden on the common man paying expensive electricity bills.
He regretted that the previous government did not carry out on-ground work on the Matiari-Lahore project under an agreement signed with China in 2013, which made the public suffer long hours of loadshedding.
The prime minister was happy to note that his government had carried out construction work of the state-of-the-art project at full pace and completed it despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
Besides energy, he said, other CPEC projects under Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative related to industrialisation and innovation in agriculture would be launched in the next phase.
He expressed the hope that completion of CPEC projects would lead to wealth creation and help the government pay off heavy debt.
Federal Minister for Energy Hammad Azhar said the project was made operational after testing in three phases, including in the peak seasons, and it would help in removing transmission bottleneck.
He said the CPEC power projects were important pillars of Pakistan’s economic system and were acting as smart and efficient sources of green energy generation.
Chinese Ambassador Nong Rong termed the operationalisation of the transmission line a milestone and said Pakistan’s power grid system had now entered a new era of development and upgradation.
He said low cost electricity was key to socioeconomic development of Pakistan and vowed that China would continue to extend its support in this regard.
He said the transmission line went along 510 km of motorway and would create around 70,000 jobs in the country.
President of the State Grid Corporation of China Xin Baoan in his video-link address said the 70th anniversary of Pakistan-China friendship was marked by cooperation at diverse levels for the benefit of their people.
He said his corporation would work closely with its counterparts in Pakistan on projects of energy cooperation.
The HVDC transmission line will evacuate power from the coming coal-based thermal power plants located at Port Qasim, Hub and Tharparkar.
The National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC) carried out a study through an international consultant which proposed HVDC technology for transfer of bulk power for its cost-effectiveness and lower line losses. Moreover, the requirement of right of way for HVDC is less than High-Voltage Alternate Current (HVAC) lines.
The HVDC line from Matiari in Sindh to Lahore in Punjab will have 1,973 towers and two converter stations with AC substations, one each at Matiari and Lahore.
It will have two grounding stations at 50-80 km from Matiari and Lahore converter stations and three repeater stations along the route of the line at Salehpat, Rahim Yar Khan and Hasilpur to boost telecommunication signals.
The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) has approved the total cost of the project at $1,658 million (including taxes, insurance etc.) and has issued a tariff determination of Rs0.74 per kWh at the rate of $1 (equal to Rs104.4).
The HVDC line’s monthly capacity charges for 4,000MW are Rs4.2 billion approximately (after indexation in tariff).
The project is being executed on Build, Own, Operate and Transfer basis for a 25-year term. The operation and maintenance of the converter stations will be carried out by the Pak MLTC and that of the transmission line by the NTDC.
The self-supported towers have been installed for bi-pole HVDC line with quad bundle conductor and size of 41,250 mm2.
Nepra has fixed the line availability factor of 98.5pc and any non-availability beyond 1.5pc allowed unavailability will be penalised. The Environmental Protection Agency of Sindh and Punjab have issued no-objection certificates after environmental impact assessments.
The testing and commissioning of the project continued for more than one year and was completed on Aug 18, 2021 after its trial run for 168 hours along with capability demonstration tests.
Protection of forest
Prime Minister Khan said the government was ensuring protection of forest land to safeguard environment.
Chairing a meeting of the National Coordination Committee for Housing and Construction, he said food security and climate change were important issues for Pakistan and the world.
The government was taking steps for recovery of occupied state land, he said and directed the authorities concerned to strictly implement the law to recover occupied state.
The PM said cadastral mapping could identify dead capital and ensure its better use.
The chairman of the Capital Development Authority told the meeting about ongoing housing projects in Islamabad.
He said development work in I-15 sector had been completed in a short period of one year.
He said Farash Town housing project and other infrastructure projects would be completed soon.
The digitalisation of land record of forests of Islamabad had almost been completed, he added.
The surveyor general gave a briefing on cadastral mapping and said work was speedily continuing on digital mapping and identification of state lands across the country, including Lahore and Islamabad.
A briefing was also given on special development zones.
The meeting was told that peri-urban settlements at the special development zones would be provided basic facilities.
Published in Dawn, October 1st, 2021