Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Pakistan’s Energy Crisis and Iran’s Offer

March 25, 2010

Pakistan's Energy Crisis and Iran's Offer

By Saeed Qureshi

Let Supreme Court of Pakistan take suo moto notice against the water and power minister Raja Pervez Ashraf for imposing rental power plants on Pakistan to overcome the acute power shortage in the country. His second unpardonable offense is to derail or hamper the offer of electricity supply by Iran. Iran has offered Pakistan up to 2270 MG way back in 2008 to beef up the indigenous power production and to offset the shortage that has brewed up an unremitting social and economic chaos.  

The Iranian ambassador in Pakistan Mashallah Shakiri has been knocking at every door including that of the president and the prime minister with an offer of concomitant concessions about the price etc. He has been reportedly cold shouldered by everyone leaving him in a state of utter amazement as to why Iran's well intentioned help is not being given positive response all the more when Pakistan badly needed such augmentation of energy.  

The power shortage in Pakistan has reached a staggering level of 5000 MG that is going to further accentuate and increase during the fast approaching peak summer. The cumulative loss due to energy crisis in being calculated in the vicinity of 240 billion rupees as the industry is half debilitated and rendered shut down. Pakistan's finance minister Shaukat Tareen's principal reason for resigning was the rental power plants that he thought were ruinous for Pakistan's economy. He was of the opinion that IPP's (independent power producers) was still a better option for power generations if their plants were refurbished and their outstanding dues were paid.

Iran a neighboring Islamic country is producing 50000 MG electric power and is supplying it to Russia, India, Qatar, UAE, Jordan, Syria, Oman, turkey, Armenia and Afghanistan. Iran wants to help Pakistan and overcome her energy crisis that has assumed cataclysmic proportions both for the people and the industrial and commercial sector. It's beyond one's wits and genius to figure out why the government top notches who witness almost every moment the devastation and the anguish being caused by the power shortage in Pakistan, to not take the Iranian offer seriously.

The only obvious reason for this callous indifference and ominous disregard to this highly timely and lucrative offer is the element of fabulous kickbacks that run into millions of dollars from rental companies and shared by all those who are the decision makers. Is it not a treason, a downright treachery and a studied savagery to the nation to make Pakistan dependent on blood sucking, most expensive and undependable system of power production? Look at the president down to the minister for power, the Investment Board, the Private Power and Infrastructure Board and other high and low officials the unabashed way they are cheating, fleecing and brutalizing their own nation only to fatten their already bulging bank accounts. It is a national crime that merits highest punishment if there can be any authority to hold these irretrievably depraved crooks accountable.

Their evil genius prompts them first to create a horrendous power shortage and a doom's day scenario. In a desperate situation as the one prevailing in Pakistan, no way out is left for the harassed people but to accept the rented power units as an evil necessity. The per unit price of electricity has been raised many times burdening the harried citizens with more economic worries. The people have to accept the Hobson's choice otherwise the power load shedding can be extended up to 20 hours a day. With a president ranking on top of the list of the power wielders looting their own nation and country, the lower minions cannot remain aloof from joining such a field day plunder that does not entail any accountability and the fear of law.

Those who have been painting rosy pictures of an energy sufficient country should be summarily tried and hanged by the nearest lamp post for an unpardonable dereliction of their responsibilities and for shutting their skewed eyes to the future of the country. The utter negligence about the future socio-economic needs of the country keeping in view the growing population is nothing short of a crime. The country as a result is more impoverished and poorer, the civic facilities have markedly shrunk and the infrastructure is run down, antiquated and unfit to cater for the growth of the economy and expanding population. No new dams for water or power have been completed or planned during the past several years, no highways or roads have been built, railway is ramshackle and other national institutions like steel mills and PIA are running in loss.

And when Iran is bending  over backward and frantically trying to help Pakistan overcome its chronic energy deficiency , the government looks askance, willfully ignores such direly needed offer and prefers  the make-shift arrangements for generation of electricity that are not only overly expensive, are squarely unreliable but also  cannot meet the energy requirements of the country. A newly born marvelous nation is the helpless victim of a monstrous rip off by a pack of greedy, rapacious, money hunting human hounds.



Friday, March 19, 2010

Threat to dam keeps Pakistanis on edge

By Kamal Hyder in on March 18th, 2010

Since our last visit to the Hunza valley, in northern Pakistan, the artificial lake caused by what many consider the largest landslide in recent times has grown to 13 km from 12 km and is now 221 feet deep, a rise of over twenty feet.

It is estimated that the water is rising by almost two feet per day, and may trigger a dam burst that would leave a trail of destruction downstream - all the way from lower Hunza to Gilgit, the provincial capital of the Northern Areas now known as Gilgit-Baltistan.

Some people are even warning that a dam burst could threaten the country's largest dam at Tarbela on the Indus river.

A huge landslide in the mid-1800's wreaked havoc all the way up to the Arabian Sea, washing away an entire Sikh Army station along the river banks.

Any dam burst would be catastrophic and army engineers are busy digging a channel that will release water from the new lake in a bid to prevent the water rising upstream.

If the dam goes, it could wash away over a dozen major bridges that form the crucial chain in the country's only road to China, known by many as the Karakorum Highway, or the KKH.

People in high-risk downstream villages under immediate threat have been asked to vacate the area and move in with host families in safe zones.

For populations further downstream, who would have nearly half an hour to escape the flood, an early warning siren system to alert all nearby villages to evacuate immediately has been arranged.

Evacuation drills have been conducted and exit routes identified.