Senate body asks WAPDA to stop collecting Neelum Jhelum Surcharge

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Tuesday recommended the power ministry to stop collection of Neelum Jhelum Surcharge from electricity bills by next month.

The committee which met here with Senator Agha Shahzaib Durrani in the chair directed the ministry to move a new summary for abolishing the surcharge from the utility bills.

The meeting was informed that so far WAPDA had collected an amount of Rs 4.7 billion extra amount from the power consumers under the head of Neelum Jhelum Surcharge. The chairman maintained that the project had already achieved its commercial operation and was earning money by producing the electricity, therefore WAPDA should immediately stop the surcharge.

Joint Secretary Power Ministry Khair Muhammed informed that a summary had already been moved by the ministry to divert the surcharge to other projects such as Diamir Bhasha Dam, and the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet (ECC) would decide about the summary.

The committee, however, was not convinced and recommended that at first the Neelum, Jhelum Surcharge should be abolished and then a new summary for another surcharge should be moved. The committee gave one week time to the power ministry for compliance.

Meanwhile the committee was also briefed on the progress of Diamir Bhasha and Mohmand dams.

Officials from WAPDA told the committee that work on both mega projects was in full swing and hoped that the projects would be completed in the given time period. It was informed that during land acquisition process for Diamir Bhasha Dam, as many as 4,102 household were affected and all were compensated.

With regard to Mohmand Dam, the meeting was informed that it had installed power capacity of 800 MW with water storage capacity of 1.3 million acre feet. Senator Usman Kakar said that there was acute water shortage in the Mohmand Agency therefore one canal should be planned for the area from the dam. The official of the project said that there were two canals planned from the dam and both pass through the Mohmand agency area that would benefit the people of the area.

He further suggested to provide subsidy on electricity consumption to the people living in 10 kilometer radius of the dam.

The meeting also took up the issue of delay in metro bus project from Peshawar Morr to New Islamabad Airport. The meeting was informed that infrastructure of the project was almost complete however due to refusal of ownership by the Punjab Mass Transit Authority, the operation work of the project was delayed.

It was further informed that due to subsidy issue, the PMTA had refused to own this project, therefore the government was now establishing a new Capital Mass Transit Authority that would own the project. The draft of the Authority bill had already been approved by  the cabinet and vetted by the law ministry and it would be tabled in the parliament soon for approval.

Meanwhile it was informed that the CDA had also moved a summary to procure 30 buses for the project and as soon as the funding for the buses received, the project would become functional.

Senators Dr Asad Ashraf, Gianchand, Hidayatullah, and Engr. Rukhsana Zuberi also attended the meeting.