SHAMIM AHMED RIZVI, Bureau Chief, Islamabad
Oct 01 - 07, 2007

Amidst controversies concerning the presidential election, the development process is going ahead as the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) with Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz in the chair approved 45 projects worth RS. 154.1 billion that includes foreign component of RS. 36.8 billion. It includes three Rs.6.62 billion strategic nuclear fuel related projects to ensure fuel supply to nuclear power plants that would be installed for generating 8800 mega watts of electricity by 2030.

Deputy Chairman of the Planning commission, Dr. Akram Sheikh told media that to erase dependency on nuclear fuel supplier countries the government has planned to establish Pakistan Nuclear Power Fuel Complex for Rs.16.112 billion. Flues fabrication plant, seamless tube plant-1, nuclear power fuel testing project and chemical processing plant will be established in the complex. This unique project would help attain the indigenous capability in manufacturing nuclear fuel for power generation.

It is learnt that the fuel fabrication plant envisages developing capability for indigenous fabrication of fuel assembly. At the initial stage, under Phase-1, the capacity of plant would be 40 tons. However, the plant will be operated at 70 percent annual production capacity to meet the fuel requirement of Chashma nuclear power plant-1 and plant-2, it will be installed in 60 months at the cost of Rs.3266 billion.

The proposed Seamless Tube Plant-1, would produce structural materials (tubes and rods) to be used by the fuel fabrication plant. It would be established in 60 months as well at the coast of RS. 2.707 billion. This plant would help the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) to attain 100 percent capability of the technology involved in manufacturing Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR) nuclear fuels. It would also be the roadmap for ultimately achieving the capability of fulfilling the requirement of one-third fuel needed for the proposed nuclear power plants.

ECNEC also approved Rs.3.66 billion-transmission line project for importing 100 KW of electricity from Iran for Gwadar. The import would be at the rate of 6.35 cents per unit. A 100-kilometer long 220 kv double circuit transmission line would be installed from Pakistan Iran border to Gwadar. It would be equipped with an optical power ground wire and 220/132kv GIS substation with 2x 160 MVA transformers. It may be mentioned that Pakistan is negotiating with Iran for import of 1000 MW of electricity. Apart from that ECNEC approved that the land for Karachi Nuclear Power Plant 2 will be acquired for Rs.1.608 billion.

It may be mentioned that out of 45 approved projects 39 are new while six are revised with an upward cost. The cost of new projects would be RS. 140.7 billion including RS. 35.1 billion foreign exchange component. The cost of the revised projects has escalated by RS. 5.9 billion from Rs.7.5 billion to RS.13.4 billion. In transport and communication sector, the meeting approved 12 projects worth Rs. 36.756 billion, eight projects in energy sector of Rs.20.7 billion, four in physical planning and housing of Rs.10.8 billion and three projects in water and agriculture sector of Rs.30.4 billion.

In education sector, ECNEC approved five projects. It also approved a significant project under which 57000 schools would be provided with missing facilities that includes federal government's contribution of Rs.7.7 will be financed by provincial governments. ECNEC also approved Rs.1.687 billion for resettlement of affects of Mirani dam, who were affected in the recent cycle that hit Balochistan.

In the infrastructure sector, 29 development projects, costing Rs.100.8 billion were approved. The ECNEC approved 7 projects, worth Rs.37.5 billion in social sector, and 9 schemes costing 15.8 billion were approved in other sectors, like agriculture, industries, commerce, etc.

The highest number of projects were approved for Punjab where the number of projects is 15 with a cost of RS. 45.5 billion, including an among of Rs.4.4 billion a s FEC.

In Sindh, the number projects are three, with a cost of Rs.21.6 billion, with FEC of RS. 11.2 billion. For the NWFP, the number of approved projects is five, costing Rs.15.1 billion, with FEC of RS. 5.1 billion. Similarly, five projects, worth RS. 7.2 billion, with FEC of Rs.2.3 billion, have been approved for Balochistan.