|Rezaul H Laskar,
Islamabad, Apr 22 - Pakistan will soon issue tenders for the import of 500 MW of electricity from India after the proposal is formally approved by the federal Cabinet, Water and Power Secretary Qazi Imtiaz Ahmed has said.
The plan to import power from India is likely to be approved in the Cabinet's next meeting, Ahmed said, without giving the exact date.
The government aims to finalise modalities, tariffs and terms and conditions for the import of power as soon as possible, he said.
"We will invite power supply companies of India for the implementation of the project soon," Ahmed told The Express Tribune.
The two countries have decided to build a 45-km, 220 kV line within six months of the signing of a formal agreement on the proposal. The agreement will be valid for five years and negotiable for another five years or more.
In a separate development, a delegation from the Water and Power Ministry is expected to visit Iran by the end of April to negotiate terms and conditions for importing another 1,000MW of electricity.
"Islamabad has asked Tehran to arrange a meeting of the Pakistani negotiating team with its Iranian counterpart by the end of April or by May 10," Ahmed said.
Iran's offer to supply 1,000MW was made some time ago but bureaucratic obstacles had resulted in a long delay in bilateral negotiations.
Pakistan currently imports 70MW from Iran for the coastal city of Makran in Balochistan province. Iran is also preparing to export 100MW of electricity to Gwadar within the next few months.
Ahmed said an advance payment has already been made by Pakistan to Iran for this. He also acknowledged the government's failure to produce enough power. The Water and Power Ministry had been unable to clear outstanding dues of Rs 350 billion to power producing companies. He listed two major reasons for the massive default.
"First, the federal government has not paid a subsidy amount of Rs 150 billion so far. Secondly, our people have not been able to collect another Rs 150 billion from major consumers," he said.
In spite of its cash crunch, the government will have to build major power projects within the next five years or the shortfall of 6,000 MW will increase.
The government has also been unable to start work on the Bhasha Dam as it has failed to raise the USD 11 billion required for the project. PTI