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Nuclear power key to economic woes of Pakistan

Published on 9th Mar, Edition 10, 2015

 

Over 60 percent of export earnings go on oil imports
Economy always threatened by ever-rising circular debt

Whatever the economic status of Pakistan may be the fact remains that the economy is heavily suffered because of centuries old power generation mechanism based on oil-fired system impairing its export benefits as more than 60 percent of export receipt had to spend on import of oil leaving a little for socio-economic developments and improving living standards in the country. It is unfortunate indeed that despite having nuclear power generating technology supported by home-made nuclear fuel, the country and the poverty hit masses have no choice but to pay the major chunk of their earnings for electricity bills.

The economy and the people of Pakistan are deprived of the benefits of nuclear power technology, which is the cheapest and safest source of electricity, however, some quarters of vested interest always oppose whenever something positive or big is on cards meant to much needed economic growth of the country. In this context we can look at the much needed Kalabagh Dam. Had this project come on ground almost half of our electricity problems, water shortage and irrigation should have been addressed. But this much sought after project became the victim of excessive politicization depriving the people of this country of the benefits of this project.

Thar coal field is yet another example for such domestic and international conspiracies to declare the Thar coal not viable for power generation while rest of the countries are using the similar or even of less heating value coal for power generation and gasification but whenever Pakistan goes for such projects the anti Pakistan forces within the country and outside the country start raising a hue and cry prior the completion of such projects. However, now the government and the private sector seems determined to go for utilizing

Thar coal for power generating in collaboration with some Chinese energy companies having technology to deal with such kind of lignite for power generation, This would be a breakthrough in our power generation regime indeed when this projects comes on line.

The development of Gwadar port in Balochistan was another project which had to face domestic and foreign opposition, however, the government is now having a firm resolve and has entered into an agreement with China again to make this project a model for Pakistan economy.

Nuclear Power

It will be interesting to note that most of the developed and developing economies having nuclear technology are producing over 40 percent nuclear power of their total power generation because it is not only the cheapest but the safest mode of power generation. On the other hand Pakistan have to rely on over 60 percent of its power generation on convention system of oil-fired, which costs heavily to the economy and the people having lowest average of per capita income in the region.

It was a good news that the government has entered into an agreement with the government of the Republic of China for construction of two nuclear power projects K-2 & K-3 with a capacity of 1100MW of each project to add 2200MW what to the nation grid.

It is unfortunate that some quarters have once again started opposing these much needed nuclear power projects and have succeeded in getting Stay Order against the establishment of the plants from the Sindh High Court.

RTC ON K2 & K3

It is interested to note that an objective round table conference was held in Karachi last week to have the views of the opinion leaders from all walks of life over the development of nuclear power plants in Karachi. It may be mentioned that China has already set up Nuclear Power plants at Chashma, which are contributing significantly in our power system.

The RTC organized by the mega think tank “101 Friends of China” was participated by the opinion leaders of the civil society, political leaders from PML(N), PPP, MQM, top leadership of the trade and industry, educationists and the elite of the town who participated passionately in the discussion focused on resolving the chronic issue of power shortages paralyzing the socio-economic development while rest of the nations are putting the nuclear technology for socio-economic benefits of their people.

A message from the renowned nuclear scientist Dr. A. Q. Khan was also read on the occasion in which he endorsed the establishment of Karachi Nuclear Power Plants to get rid of the energy crisis faced by the country.

While the Chairman Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission Dr. Ansar Parvez who spoke at length to alleviating the misperceptions about the forthcoming nuclear power plants carrying high level international safety measures in all respects by the Chinese experts.

Dr. A. Q. Khan said “Pakistan is facing severe shortage of power for the last ten years. It has to harness all possible energy resources in order to overcome its current energy problems as well as to ensure sustainable economic growth for the foreseeable future. In this context, nuclear power has to play a vital role as a safe, reliable, economical and environment friendly electrical energy supplier.

Pakistan acquired the technical now-how for operating a nuclear plant more than 40 years ago when KANUPP (supplied by Canada) become operational. Even in the isolation imposed by the international embargoes soon after its start-up, Pakistani engineers demonstrated their commitment and competence in not only ensuring safe operation of the plant, but also in acquiring complete command over various sophisticated technologies involved in manufacturing the fuel bundles for KANUP.

The subsequent nuclear power units set up at Chashma with Chinese assistance have been providing energy to the national grid at high capacity factors and relatively low cost. The success of these units has made a very clear case for the viability of nuclear power in this country.

 

“I am very pleased to know that with the beginning of the 2200 MW K-2/K-3 project, Pakistan’s nuclear power program is now embarking upon a new phase that will involve the construction of larger nuclear power plants, which will be able to make a significant contribution to relieving the country of its energy deficits.

The apprehensions of some of our people about the construction of these plants are unfounded. The design of these units is based on Generation III technology with many additional safety features. I am confident that these plants will provide clean, safe and reliable electrical power to the country in general, and to Karachi in particular. I wish the proponents of this vital new project all success in their endeavors”.

The RTC on Nuclear power plants was also attended by Vice Consul of the Republic of China M. V. Yongpeng and Edmund Chnu and Walter Fan Wei of ICBC.

Dr. Ansar Parvez, Chairman Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, in his presentation said that how the nuclear power is being used by the developed economies where over 40 percent of the electricity is generated through nuclear plants, which is the cheapest source of energy.

It is unfortunate that half of our export earnings are spent on import of fuel oil for generating thermal power which is most expensive mode of power production. He pointed out that all safety measures required for power plants are already ensured and above all that prior to the operation of the two plants of 1,100MW in Karachi the similar power plants would be put into operation in China, hence there is nothing to worry about a possible eventuality. In case of any unsuspected earthquake or tsumani being talked about, the Chinese experts have already taken all the essential steps ensuring to maintain all safety measures. He elaborated the only side effect of the nuclear power plants is the radiation, which is everywhere elsewhere in the world as we are exposed to radiation of sun, computers and other medical equipments more than a power plant.

If we take a flight from Karachi to Washington that exposes us to radiation more than the sitting by the side of a power plant for more than 20 days. While the radiation emanated from computers is also more than a power plant so we should not be mislead by such unfounded fears of harm to human health.

Lt. Gen (Retd) Moinuddin Haider said: “It is beyond my thinking that when there is no development in the country then we started making hue and cry that the government has no development program, but when the government starts development program then people started raising objections,” Lieutenant General (Retd) Moinuddin Haider observed. “KANUPP is producing nuclear power since last 40 years, but when we go for setting-up more nuclear power plants then some groups started raising objections; claiming nuclear power is not human-friendly deal,” Haider added. “I think in presence of existing nuclear power plants in the country, we should not make hue and cry over establishment of more nuclear power plants,” Haider maintained.

Hameed Haroon, the Chief Executive of Dawn group, however, emphasized that the government should ensure transparency in communication with the people to create credibility and confidence of the people on the government policies. “It is in the interest of the good governance to develop credibility amongst citizens to avoid uncalled for noise over good and positive policies and steps taken in the interest of the country and the people.”

Mian Zahid Hussain former president of Korangi Association of Trade and Industry and a prominent business leader in his remarks said “We have already discussed the advantages and disadvantages of the nuclear energy, I would like to talk on this platform on consumer point of view.” “We, the industrialists, are facing acute energy shortages which adversely affecting our production,” he said, adding that “snail-paced growth in the GDP is result of low production.”

“We are carrying bombs in our vehicles in shape of CNG cylinders and every after one month, deaths were reported in the city due to CNG cylinder blast, but when we talk about nuclear power, some people started raising objections claiming that the radiation omitted in energy production process would prove baneful for the residents of the city,” he maintained.

Former Chief Minister (CM) Sindh Syed Ghaus Ali Shah remarked. “There are two sides of a coin; there would be positive and negative impact of nuclear energy, but after presentation of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) Chairman Dr Ansar Pervaiz presentation, I would like to say that advantages of the nuclear energy are much higher than its consequences,” Shah added.

“MQM leader Dr Farooq Sattar is playing key role in bringing the glories of the financial-hub back and I would request him to mobilize the public opinion for setting-up nuclear power plants on the West of the port city,” Shah maintained. “If the metropolitan city gets 2200MW from nuclear energy than Karachi will become the city of lights again,” he claimed. However it is must clarified that the 2,200MW produced by upcoming power plants are not being made exclusively for Karachi rather they would be connected with the national grid, however, the added power generation would ease the pressure to a great extent in terms of the country.

“The biggest issue in setting-up nuclear power plants is lack of knowledge,” Senator Abdul Haseeb Khan observed. “Our politicians, businessmen and industrialists actually do not have much knowledge about the nuclear energy and this is the only reason that when we talk about nuclear energy, some groups come in action and tried to misguide the citizens on the name of environmental hazards,” Khan added. “To overcome this problem, we will have to generate census,” Khan stressed, suggesting that “the government should gather all the stakeholders on one platform and informed them about this program to generate much-needed consensus.”

“It would be wrong if we will not set-up nuclear power plants because of security threats,” Justice (Retd) Said-uz-Zaman Siddiqui observed. “When we go for setting up nuclear power plants then we would have to face international pressure and any negligence would lead towards sanctions,” Siddiqui added. “I think we should educate people and make them understand that nuclear power is cheapest and comparatively less hazardous as compare to other sources of energy,” Siddiqui suggested.

If the government set-up K2 and K3 nuclear power plants out of Karachi, then there would be debate that the government is overlooking the financial-hub,” Ruet-e-Hilal Committee Pakistan (RHCP) Chairman Prof Mufti Muneeb-ur Rehman said. “In the time of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Canada refused to run KANUPP then our scientists run the nuclear power plant,” Rehman recalled, adding that “KANUUP is in function since last 40 years and if we set-up more nuclear power plants then there would be no threat to the residents of the city.” “Our scientists have set-up security standards for running nuclear power plants and feeling happy to say that our security standards are better than the standards of other countries running nuclear power plants,” Rehman maintained.

“Nuclear energy should be Pakistan’s first priority,” former President Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) Mian Abrar said. “The entire world is generating cheap power through nuclear power plants then why a nuclear power (Pakistan) should not set-up nuclear power plants,” Abrar questioned. “The government should work on energy mix and devise a strategy that how much power it would have to generate from nuclear, solar, wind and hydro power plants,” Abrar suggested.

Representing Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), former Senator Taj Haider said that K2and K3 nuclear power plants are the projects of PPP. “PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari and former President Asif Ali Zardari visited China and requested to set-up two nuclear power plants of total capacity 2200MW,” he recalled. “MQM leader Dr Farooque Sattar has raised objection regarding location of the project, but I want to say here that the decision of setting-up two nuclear power plants on West of the port city was taken after keeping all the consequences in view,” Haider told. “The political leadership is agreed to establish K2 and K3 nuclear power plants in Karachi and I suggest that we should start these projects without any further delay,” Haider stressed.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) MNA Qaiser Sheikh said that Pakistan is 5th largest country in the world in terms of population, but when we talk about GDP growth then Pakistan is nowhere in top 50 countries of the world. “We do not have sufficient energy for our industry and if the situation remained unchanged then it would become difficult for the government to improve economic growth,” he remarked.

“India hopes that the country’s GDP will grow and reach at 6.8 percent in coming years and Pakistan’s current GDP is 4 percent,” Sheikh said, adding that “we are small country as compare to India and we must take our GDP to 7 percent in coming years to compete arch-rival.”

Bibojee Services (Pvt) Ltd Advisor Brigadier (Retd) Tariq Khalil said that when China starts investment in Pakistan then some groups come in action to sabotage the projects of public interest. “Currently, Pak-China friendship is facing international conspiracies and pressure from some lobbies in the country,” he observed. “We look into positive aspects of nuclear power and the concerns, but I think that advantages of nuclear power is much more higher than its disadvantages,” Khalil maintained.

“We are paying more money by generating expensive energy through furnace oil-base power plants, but when China come to assist Pakistan for generating cheap energy by setting-up nuclear power plants then we raised an objection that China is going to test nuclear power generation in Pakistan,” Avari Towers CEO Byram D. Avari said. “We are raising objection on the capabilities of world’s number one of the most technologically advance country,” Avari questioned. “The government should rely on Chinese technology and Chinese engineers and allow China to set-up nuclear power plants in the country to overcome simmering energy crises. “We should not rely on one friend, but we should make more friends to survive in this global village,” Avari stressed.

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