Federal Minister for Energy (Power Division), Khurram Dastagir Khan, marked a momentous occasion on Thursday as he inaugurated the 220-kilometer Matiari-Thar 500 KV Quad Bundle transmission line. The project, completed in a record time of four months at a cost of Rs20 billion, was directed by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and executed by the National Transmission Dispatch Company (NTDC).
Addressing the media at a local hotel before the inauguration, Minister Khurram Dastagir hailed the transmission line as a revolutionary achievement. The line, entirely indigenous, will carry the cheapest electricity generated from local Thar coal across the country.
The minister revealed that this transmission line was initially scheduled for completion four years ago but had been delayed by the previous government's inability to execute the project. However, under the guidance of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, the NTDC, led by its managing director and a dedicated team, completed the project in just four months. Furthermore, the NTDC managed to save Rs1 billion by collaborating with five local companies to bring the total cost down to Rs20 billion.
Dastagir emphasised that the current federal government had successfully produced 1980 megawatts of new and affordable electricity from Thar coal. The power generated will be transmitted to the national grid through the Matiari-Lahore transmission line, a crucial part of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.
Highlighting an unprecedented achievement, the minister stated that high-power cables, transformers, and conductors were being manufactured by local companies, thus preserving foreign currency reserves.
Acknowledging the country's challenging economic conditions and rising inflation, Dastagir affirmed that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and allied parties, including the Pakistan People's Party, JUI, MQM, and parties from Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, were dedicated to lifting the nation out of this difficult situation. In a veiled criticism of opponents, he stressed that while they might attempt to dismantle facilities, the government would continue building them.
The minister commended the NTDC, along with support from sensitive agencies and the DIG Hyderabad, for effectively curbing the theft of transmission line cables and conductors, which had cost the nation billions of rupees.
Addressing concerns about power outages and transformer repairs, the minister clarified that load shedding was being carried out due to line losses and not due to electricity shortages. He announced that modern vehicles equipped with safety equipment had been provided to the Hyderabad Electric Supply Company (HESCO) management for on-site transformer repairs without the need for removal.
Dastagir urged electricity consumers to cooperate with HESCO by paying their bills promptly and reducing losses, which would help alleviate load shedding.
Regarding the transfer of power distribution companies to the provinces, the federal minister acknowledged that it was a complex and legal matter that would require time to materialise.
In a separate event, the minister visited HESCO headquarters, where he handed over 15 modern vehicles equipped with safety measures to the company's CEO. These vehicles, purchased at a cost of Rs230 million, will facilitate technical staff in the on-site repair of power transformers.
Following the visit, the minister, accompanied by State Minister Hashim Notezai, MD NTDC, PML(N) Sindh President Sayed Muhammad Shah, MNA Khealdas Kohistani, HESCO Chief Myzafar Abbasi, and others, paid a visit to the shrine of Hazrat Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai in Bhit Shah.