Balochistan needs a better power supply system

Published on – December 27, 2017 – 7:15 am

There is good news from Ormara where the QESCO had completed the power transmission line between Pasni and Ormara. The power transmission line was energized the same day and the people start getting needed electricity.

There is good news from Ormara where the QESCO had completed the power transmission line between Pasni and Ormara. The power transmission line was energized the same day and the people start getting needed electricity.

Ormara and dozens of major fishing stations denied electricity for the past 70 long years. Presumably, it is the Pakistan Navy that the people are blessed with electricity after decades. A score of naval institutions are working without electricity and they had to depend on local power generation system which remained faulty and insecure using it for longer hours.

Many visiting Arab Sheikhs had donated generators to the local people for power supply confined to fewer hours. The QESCO was made responsible for providing fuel to those local power generators.

Off and on, the QESCO officials failed to ensure fuel supply forcing the people to experience power shut downs for days and weeks. It was the media that highlighted the issue compelling the QESCO to rush fuel supply.

Such power generators were provided to the local people as gift from the visiting Arab Sheikhs came for seasonal hunting of Siberian birds in Kharan, Chagai and Mekran regions. Besides other gifts, they established modern hospitals at fewer places and installed power generators for supplying electricity to many townships for fewer hours.

The Central Government failed to meet the power electricity demands of the people in these vast regions and they are all off the National Grid system so that they should remain backward and undeveloped.

Since Balochistan had always remained the lowest priority in terms of services and facilities, the vast regions denied electricity, water, gas, roads or the basic infrastructure for future development.

Chagai is the richest in terms of mines and minerals as both the major gold and copper mines of Saindak and Reko Dik or located in the Nokkundi region which had been denied electricity.

The Balochistan Government under Dr Abdul Malik Baloch suggested extending the power grid line to Nokkundi for which the Provincial Government had paid the entire amount in cash to the QESCO for building the power transmission line. The transmission line could not be built to this date after several years. The reason is criminal inefficiency and incompetency of QESCO, to say the least.

Visibly, there is no sign that the Nokkundi Power Transmission line will be complete in near future. The QESCO and its spokesman preferred to keep mum on this issue. Interestingly, the Saindak Project planners had built their own power generation system to operate this most prestigious gold project.

The Resource Development Corporation (RDC) of which Saindak Metals was a subsidiary established four separate power units of 10 MW each to ensure round-the-clock power supply to the plant and also it workforce residing within the premises of Saindak complex.

In 1980s, the Central Government and most of its power functionaries, including the Prime Minister of Pakistan, were determined to close down the Saindak Project as the rulers were opposed to development of Balochistan by designs.

The then Prime Minister of Pakistan paid a scheduled visit to Saindak accompanied by Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan, the then Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources, and announced its permanent closure and stopped all Federal Government funding to the Copper and Gold Project merely because it was in Balochistan. He did not stop there, the Prime Minister ordered immediate expulsion of the Chinese engineers along with the spare-parts of the plant worth billions.

Thus there was no question that the Central Government will extend the power transmission lines from national grid to Mekran, Kharan and Chagai, the existing half of present territory of Balochistan.  Whatever cosmetic development had taken place remained close to show room of Quetta, the Provincial Capital.

Definitely, the Pakistan Navy had been the prime factor that the residents of Ormara are also benefitted and getting electricity. Presumably it will be uninterrupted and without discriminatory load shedding coined for Balochistan specifically.

The Provincial Government and its Assembly should play a more active role in building pressure on the anti-Baloch lobby at the Centre and connect the three major regions of Mekran, Kharan and Chagai with the national grid system.

The QESCO should give top priority to building the power transmission line to all the regions mainly the Nokkundi Power Transmission Line so that rich minerals are exploited for the benefit of the people of Pakistan as a whole. All the known mineral riches are located in the Nokkundi region which was deliberately backward and poor.

It is also in the interest of the power consumers that the QESCO should improve its system and working and effectively plug the line losses and leakage of power by dubious characters. They should stop punishing the honest power consumers paying their bills in time and regularly. Power supply should be denied to criminals and not those paying their bills and not involve in power stealing.

There is no justification for load shedding for those consumers paying their bills regularly and not involved in power theft in any way. Most of the problems of the QESCO or administrative in nature for which the honest and law abiding power consumers should not suffer.

Finally, the QESCO should connect Mekran from Coastal region and second from Central Mekran linking it up with Lasbela or Karachi. It seems that the Government of Pakistan is not interested in buying bulk power from Iran. It is planning a power house of 300 MW coal-fired plant at Gwadar with the Chinese investment.

It is interesting that the Iranian Government is offering to sell electricity to Pakistan at Rs 6 per unit when the cost of power generation in Pakistan is Rs 12. Still the Pakistan is reluctant to buy Iranian electricity at the doorstep hoodwinking general people to import power from Central Asia—a far fetched idea.