ISLAMABAD: Justice Khalilur Rehman Ramday, a member of the Supreme Court bench hearing allegations of corruption in rental power plants (RPPs) projects, said on Wednesday he wondered why Pakistan was getting a mere 150MW of electricity despite having paid a whopping amount of Rs18 billion as a mobilisation fund to power generators one and a half years ago.
Taking a suo motu notice of the allegations, the three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, Justice Ghulam Rabbani and Justice Ramday ordered the IT in-charge of Pakistan Electric Power Company (Pepco) to retrieve information about the company’s generation capacity of the past one year, along with details of shortfall.
According to former minister Faisal Saleh Hayat of the PML-Q, the information had been removed by Pepco from its website.
“The statement seems to be true as our own responsible officer from the IT department confirms it,” the chief justice said, adding: “Prima facie we are of the opinion that Pepco for reasons known to its authority has removed the figures whose retrieval is very important for a decision by this court.”
The chief justice observed: “After such a big investment, prima facie the desired results have not been achieved.” He said that not any other forum, but an Asian Development Bank report itself had said so.
Last year the federal government had approved plans to set up rental power projects to generate about 1,206MW of electricity to end loadshedding.
But the plans became controversial when Faisal Saleh Hayat, a member of the National Assembly, levelled corruption allegations against Water and Power Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf in the house. Mr Ashraf rubbished the allegations and threatened to sue Mr Hayat.
The court asked Pepco’s IT in-charge to appear in person and submit the company’s authentic record.
He is required to retrieve the information from ‘master server’ if it is not available at the website.
Mr Hayat, who was summoned by the court to substantiate the allegations, described the RPP deal as the mother of all corruption and said the units being installed were 10 years old and had outlived their utility.
“They (plants) are not only very expensive, but their generation capacity has also deteriorated over the years,” he said.
Citing the official record he had downloaded from Pepco’s website, Mr Hayat said that Pakistan’s power generation capacity was about 19,478MW in 2008 while the total electricity demand was 18,200MW in 2009. About 3,068MW had been purchased from independent power producers (IPPs) which, he said, was half the capacity of 6,098MW generated through thermal plants.
Despite adequate generation capacity, Mr Hayat alleged, the much-needed power requirement was deliberately not met to justify installation of rental power houses and callously leave the poor masses to bear 14 to 18 hours of loadshedding. Besides, he said, managing directors had been appointed in Pepco in violation of the company rules because they were neither engineers nor finance specialists, or from business or accounts.
“The power generated by IPPs cost us 10 to 12 US cents per unit while the same from RPPs will cost us 15 to 22 cents,” Mr Hayat said.
But Khawaja Tariq Raheem, the counsel for Pepco, said the electricity from RPPs would cost the country Rs14 per unit while the same from thermal power (IPPs) cost Rs12 to 18. The electricity from hydel projects cost Rs2-2.5.