QUETTA: Balochistan is the only province of Pakistan where every successive Government in the province is striving to develop its economy but without making big investment on basic infrastructure—mainly gas and electricity or the sources of energy.
More than 29 huge districts, including the second and third biggest cities of Turbat and Khuzdar, are denied gas facility. There are no plans in hand to provide gas facilities to the major population centres in the Baloch Mainland. Turbat, the second largest city and the historic cultural capital of Balochistan, is not linked with the national grid for uninterrupted supply of electricity.
It is getting electricity from Iran where there is no concept of load shedding or suspending power supply for a single minute. Still, Turbat and its surroundings are facing massive load shedding and for unexplained reasons to this date. The power supply from Jiki Gwar in Iranian Balochistan is continuing without any interruption round the clock without a concept of power breakdown or incidents of tripping at a larger scale.
Earlier, the corrupt rulers played havoc with the 40 MW power house at Pasni by using sub-standard and highly contaminated smuggled fuel and finally destroyed it. Pakistan is forced to buy electricity from Iran and the corrupt Mafia involved in the scandal was rewarded in the past presumably for knocking down the 40 MW power house.
According to unofficial sources, Balochistan needs 1600 MW of electricity at the moment and it is getting around 400 MW or 500 MW and there is a huge shortfall which is being plugged with massive and indiscriminate load shedding.
On the contrary, the power houses in Balochistan are producing more than 2400 MW at the moment. In other words, 2000 MW of surplus electricity is being provided or sold to Sindh and the Punjab through the national grid system.
At present, the national grid system of power supply is confined to Karachi-Bela through K Electric, Naseerabad-to Quetta-Chaman and from Quetta to Khuzdar and Quetta to Naushki. Loralai and Zhob section are getting electricity from the National Grid System by extending power transmission lines from Dera Ghazi Khan. Rest of Balochistan, almost half of Pakistan, is denied gas and electricity for the past several decades.
In some parts of Central Balochistan, load shedding is spread over to 20 hours a day where the local people are staging demonstrations regularly and registering their strong protest against the QESCO and its reckless and highly irresponsible load shedding meant to punish the people in general.
Two coal based power plants are being built near Hub with the collaboration of HUBCO and the other in Gwadar. The Chinese are financing both the coal-fired power houses. The HUBCO plants will produce 1320 MW of electricity while the Gwadar Plant is designed to produce 300 MW. It means power surplus from Balochistan will jump to 3600 MW and Balochistan using merely 400 MW. The Federal Government had spared no funds for infrastructural development
There are no plans in knowledge of common people that the Government is extending the power transmission lines to any part of Balochistan or extending power facilities to more people.
The QESCO is state owned commercial enterprise and it can draw the strength from the State authority and arrest the power thieves and punish them under the law. The line losses are exclusively linked with competency and efficiency of the QESCO and its working and there is no sense to punish the people through massive load shedding to recover the line losses from the innocent consumers paying their bills on time and without fail.
Thus the Government at the Centre should review its policies in regard to Balochistan and allocate resources for providing the basic infrastructure for future development. It is ridiculous on the part of the Government planners and economists developing Balochistan without gas and electricity or the basic infrastructure.
The power grid system should cover the entire Balochistan without any discrimination and arrange gas supply first to Central Balochistan and Mekran region where prestigious port city of Gwadar is also located. Independent economists had sarcastically remarked that Gwadar Port is in the outer space having no gas, no electricity, no railway line and above all drinking water facilities for a very small population of much less than hundred thousand.
The Government is yet to make public the new development plan for Balochistan. Is there any major investment on building the basic infrastructure for future development? The people will wait for such details with a keen interest to know the exact nature of the planning for development.
The Public Sector Development Programme of the Central Government in Balochistan had left a big impact on the provincial economy where Mirani Dam, part of Kachhi Canal, Mekran Coast Highway, Gwadar Port, Pat Feeder and score of big institutions are visible with a naked eye.
On the contrary, the impact of Provincial PSDP is big zero. Nothing is visible that the Provincial Government had spent hundreds of billions on development projects for the last four decades. All junk schemes of the PSDP were given the name of development schemes by the vested interests. The resources had gone waste as the schemes failed to increase the revenue of the Provincial Government or provided employment opportunities to more than a million unemployed people.