NA body takes notice of extraordinary cost estimates
* Committee members asks when one solar tube well available at Rs 1.5m, why is Planning Commission estimating Rs 3m
By Sajid Chaudhry (Daily Times)
The National Assembly’s (NA) Standing Committee on Textile Industry was shocked to know the exorbitant price estimates of up to Rs 3 million each as estimated by the Planning Commission for installation of one solar tube well in the country.
The members of the committee challenged these estimates and were of the view that when this technology is available in the market at Rs 1.5 million as maximum price, then why the Planning Commission has fixed these estimates so high.
Taking cognisance of these higher estimates the committee directed the Planning Commission to present methodology adopted by it for the calculation of the cost of solar tube wells in the next meeting of the committee. The Pakistan Electric Power Company (PEPCO) representative informed that a pilot project is also under active consideration and undergoing approval process under which the government has decided to install 4,000 solar tube wells in all four provinces with 1,000 in each province. One solar tube well would cost ranging between Rs 2.5 million to Rs 3 million and the federal government would provide 50 percent of the cost as subsidy to the farming community and remaining 50 percent cost would be borne by the farmer himself.
Meanwhile, PEPCO informed the legislators that PEPCO has finalised the estimates for separation of feeders of agriculture tube wells across the country and it would cost Rs 33 billion.
The PEPCO representative here on Wednesday informed the NA Committee on Ministry of Textile Industry that under the said project some 563 feeders would be required to be separated from normal power feeders to make sure availability of power to agriculture tube wells across the country even during load shedding. The PEPCO representative informed the members of the committee that it has completed this exercise upon directions of the NA’s textile committee for separation of agriculture tube wells feeders that had stressed the importance of making available power for the farming community for food security as well as for ensuring cash crops of the country including cotton, wheat, rice and other crops.
The Ministry of Water and Power Additional Secretary present in the meeting informed that the ministry has received the estimates for separation of agriculture tube wells feeders from the normal feeders. He informed that cost estimates may be in accordance with high voltage batteries to be attached with these solar tube wells. He informed that upon completion of installation of 4,000 solar tube wells in the country, some 2,200 megawatts (MW) power could be saved and it would be diverted towards more needy sectors of economy. The additional secretary also informed that all four chief ministers and federal government ministers and officials are part of the committee, which is looking into the project on solar tube wells and this committee to finalise the final estimates for the one solar tube well in its meetings to be held in future.
PEPCO representative was unable to answer the question on separation of power feeders for textile industry in the country, however, he assured the committee that this exercise would be carried out as soon as possible and there is a possibility that estimates for separation of textile feeders would be presented in the next meeting of the committee. However, the committee members were not happy with the reply from the PEPCO representative and demanded that committee had time and again asked for preparation of these estimates.