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Sindh govt geared to derive maximum benefit from CPEC projects: CM

KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah on Monday said the provincial government is fully geared up to derive maximum benefit from the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) for the people while focusing on removing energy and infrastructure bottlenecks.

The chief minister, while speaking at CPEC Summit at Bara Dari, added that Sindh government in collaboration with international agencies and other stakeholders has finalised a comprehensive sector-wise Sindh Development Plan that encompasses both CPEC and non-CPEC initiatives for short, mid and long-term goals, laying special emphasis on energy and infrastructure.

CM Sindh said that during the 7th Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) meeting held in November 2017 in Islamabad, he had realised that CPEC was a force multiplier for Pakistan. He added that it was not merely a road construction project but rather a long-term development agenda for Pakistan.

“The investment in CPEC is not a one-off event; it is an ongoing multi-sectoral development process and I firmly believe that CPEC will transform the economic landscape of our country,” he said.

He said that Sindh was Pakistan’s largest economic hub and the second largest province, has two commercial ports, well-developed road network, hosts one-third of country’s large scale manufacturing industry and a quarter of its small-scale manufacturing units.

CM Sindh said the spatial layout of CPEC Long Term Plan was ‘One belt, three axes and several passages’ offering innumerable opportunities for Sindh as three major cities –Sukkur, Hyderabad and Karachi have been declared major node cities of the corridor.

“We have the potential to exploit North-South trade logistics and develop coastal business zones,” he said adding coastal development to the list for optimal utilisation of two commercial ports and opening of Keti Bandar.

“Development and utilisation of commercial ports would complement CPEC long term plan and government of Sindh assures its full cooperation and facilitation in this regard,” he stated.

Sindh is the energy hub of Pakistan

The chief minister said that Sindh was the energy hub of Pakistan, and is also the only province which has a dedicated land grants policy for renewable energy parks producing excellent results.

“The government of Sindh, realising the importance of renewable energy, started investing in green energy projects long before formal launch of CPEC,” he said.

He said the province currently contributes 935MW of wind energy for the national grid from Jhimpir-Gharo-Keti Bandar wind corridor from 17 IPPs, including three CPEC early harvest projects which are UEP, China Three Gorges and Sachal, and additional 300MW wind power projects are under construction and would be completed by October 2018.

CM Sindh said that NEPRA has recently conducted public hearings for determination of cost plus tariff for pending projects, and it is hoped that 35 companies to whom Sindh government has issued Letter of Intent (LoI) for generation of 2,450MW would be able to complete their projects by 2021.

Talking about solar power generation, the chief minister said that he was pursuing niche policies for off-grid and on-grid areas.  He added that several off-grid villages, houses and schools in Ghotki, Sanghar and Nangarparkar have been electrified, and on-grid solar projects under public-private partnership mode were being developed in Larkana, Sukkur, Thatta, Jamshoro, and Benazirabad.

He disclosed that the tariff for three Sukkur based projects is as low as USC 5.26/Kwh as compared to very expensive tariffs prevailing in other parts of the country.

CM Sindh said that in order to encourage investment in solar power his government has initiated a $105 million Sindh Solar Energy Programme which includes urban rooftop solar programme for Karachi and Hyderabad, net metering, village electrification, 50MW solar project at Manjhand, and resource assessment and forecasting center for renewable technologies.

Talking about challenges, the chief minister said that grid capacity, accessibility and connectivity were serious challenges for optimal and safe evacuation of power.  He said the Sindh government has requested NEPRA to upgrade the status of Sindh Transmission and Dispatch Company (STDC) from an SPV to a provincial grid company to eliminate grid issues.

Thar coal is the flagship project of Sindh government

CM Sindh said that Thar coal mining and power project is the flagship CPEC project of Sindh government and the largest public-private partnership in Pakistan.

“We firmly believe that Thar coal development is a real game changer for Pakistan’s economy,” he said adding it will not only provide energy security for the country but will also save by substituting imported fuel.

After achieving financial close in April 2016, the Thar coal project has progressed very swiftly, the chief minister said, and by end May 2018 first coal seam would be available for extraction.

He disclosed that power generation plant will begin pre-commissioning tests by October 2018 and achieve grid connectivity and synchronisation by December 2018. He further disclosed that in May 2019, Thar Block-II would be producing electricity on commercial basis.

Karachi Circular Railway and Keti Bandar projects

Briefly touching upon Karachi Circular Railway project, Dhabeji Special Economic zone and Keti Bandar project, the chief minister said that KCR was a critical project for Karachi, and his government has put made special efforts to make $2 billion KCR project a part of CPEC which was approved in December 2016.

He said the KCR is shovel ready but unfortunately there has been a delay on by  Pakistan Railways, issuance of sovereign guarantee, handing over of Karachi Urban Transport Corporation (KUTC) to Sindh government and consensus on shared corridor issues which await decision from the federal government.

Talking about coastal belt, the chief minister said that Sindh has 250 kilometres of coastline, established industrial base, dynamic financial sector, and a substantial young population.

He added that a new port along with Power Park and industrial zone is be required to cater for future economic needs and to ensure continued growth. “These will bring varying degrees of benefits to the economy and to the country. As a supplier of jobs, ports not only serve an economic but also a social function,” he said.

He went on saying Idea of Keti Bandar power park and port is one such initiative under CPEC, which is technically an extension of Thar coal grand development scheme.

The feasibility study is underway which covers a study of two 660MW Thar coal fired power projects with a potential to eventually generate 10,000MW from Thar coal, power transmission line, railway link from Islamkot to Keti Bandar, construction of dedicated coal jetty and related infrastructure.

The chief minister assured all investors that security of all Chinese citizens is the foremost priority of the Sindh government.

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