Water and power ministry asked to make the project operational within a fortnight
As calls for a probe into the fledgling Nandipur power project rose to a crescendo, the government has sacked the project’s managing director and asked the water and power ministry to take over the project and make it operational within a fortnight.
MD Captain (retd) Muhammad Mehmood was dismissed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during a high-level meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Energy at his office on Wednesday. Muzaffargarh Power Plant’s Chief Engineer Muhammad Tariq has been given the additional charge of the 425 megawatt project.
The prime minister directed the power ministry to get the Gujranwala based plant functional within 15 days. The water and power secretary, who attended Wednesday’s meeting, could not be reached for confirmation despite repeated attempts.
Troubles for Captain (retd) Mehmood, a Grade-19 officer, had been brewing since long. Under his watch the plant had stopped working soon after it was inaugurated in May 2014. He had also run into trouble with the company’s board of directors and the water and power ministry.
Among the reasons being cited for his dismissal is his refusal to sign an agreement with Chinese firm Dong Fang to operate the plant for six months, and for trying to bypass the board of directors to award the operation and maintenance contract to a Malaysian firm on higher rates and for an extended period.
“He refused to sign any document relating to the agreement with Engineering, Procurement and Construction’s (EPC) contractor Dong Fang, which upset the water and power ministry” said a senior official of the ministry familiar with the matter.
Interestingly, Capt (retd) Mehmood had been awarded Tamgha-e-Imtiaz for his ‘untiring work’ for the company. The award had been conferred on the recommendations of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif.
Energy projects reviewed
During Wednesday’s meeting, the prime minister was briefed on various power projects in the country, especially those earmarked under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. He directed enhanced inter-ministerial coordination for early completion of the projects. “Transparency and adherence to relevant laws and rules must be given topmost priority in all these projects.”
“China is a great friend and has tremendously justified our time-tested friendship by heavily investing in Pakistan, especially in energy related projects, which would certainly resolve the important issue of energy deficiency in the country,” said Nawaz.
During the meeting, the premier was told that of the Rs57 billion allocated for the Nandipur power project, Rs49.5 billion has been released so far.
Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Shahid Khaqan Abbasi briefed the prime minister on the provision of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the power sector. The premier directed the ministry to undertake an awareness drive about the project and its costs by holding workshops and seminars.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 15th, 2015.