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The News

Published Date: Jan 4, 2011

FIA to probe funds squandering in AEDB

The
high-ups have finally woken up to the rampant corruption in the Alternative
Energy Development Board (AEDB) as the current Executive Director of the Board
has at last allowed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to investigate and
help recover the embezzled funds.

The board received billion of rupees from the government and international
donor agencies but failed to add a single unit of energy to Pakistan’s power
capacity.

Those currently serving AEDB have not proved to be any different as far as the
board’s accomplishments are concerned. The only achievement that can be
credited to them is the handing over of corrupt officials to the FIA. The legal
action was impelled by a performance study on AEDB carried out by the concerned
Civil Society and an active local non-governmental organisation.

It is noteworthy that India has made phenomenal progress in the energy sector
during past five years, owing primarily due to the effective management of its
renewable energy sector. The Indians targeted to add 2200 MW over a five-years
span but this was surpassed, as the power capacity was augmented by 5426.4 MW.
On the other hand, Pakistan’s five-year plan (2005-10), fixed an achievable
target with the consultation of AEDB authorities.

The AEDB’s role was to chalk out and facilitate development in
alternative/renewable energy projects particularly off-grid electrification
programmes of rural areas. Intensive efforts were required for installation of
100 MW wind power by December 2005 at Keti Bander and Gharo Sindh and 700 MW by
2010.

Members of the Civil Society and experts demand that a technical audit ought to
be conducted to assess the level of monetary mismanagement that has accrued
over the past few years. One such example AEDB’s gross negligence is the
management of the Waste-to-Energy programme in Islamabad. The apex civic
authority of Pakistan announced a Rs2 billion landfill project at Kuri,
situated just six kilometers from the Prime Minister’s House and is a recharge
zone for Rawalpindi- Islamabad.

A local NGO and experts protested in front of Parliament against the plan. In
2006, SDPI sent a technical note and advice to the government that instead of
pursuing the redundant landfill project to dispose of municipal waste, it was
better to pursue Waste-to-Energy programme.

The waste of the twin cities is enough to produce 30 to 45 MW, which can help
meet electricity demand of the two cities. Local residents made several visits
to AEDB, as they were familiar with its mandate however the management refused
to entertain their concerns.

After considerable public and media pressure, the CDA has at last shelved the
landfill project. Not only was a monetary saving of Rs2 billion made,
groundwater has been protected from harmful contaminants.

The government needs to reform AEDB so that its activities are in line with its
mandate and objectives. Other countries having similar socio-economic
conditions have been able to produce 425MW of energy in 2009 in Latin America.
Chile where the concept was introduced in 2007 was able to produce 168 MW of
wind energy in one year.

It is a mystery why IPPs failed to install wind energy projects here. Some
potential investors have said on condition of anonymity that the AEDB is the
only hurdle in this regard. One of them said that if the Supreme Court
supervised the whole process his company was ready to install 500 MW wind
energy plant within six to nine months as they have already spent millions of
dollars on license fee and preparation of feasibility study.

Another investor interested in wind energy sector told this correspondent that
when he contacted AEDB for the project the staff demanded Rs2.5 million for
preparation of feasibility report, saying feasibility report prepared by AEBD
staff only would be accepted for approval.