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Pakistan Observer

Published Date: Dec 21, 2012

Timely measures stressed to tackle energy challenges

Friday, December 21, 2012 –
Islamabad-Speakers at a conference on Thursday underlined the need for taking
solid steps to effectively tackle energy challenges confronting the country.
“If action is not taken now the economy would face serious consequences
plunging the country into a crisis of untold dimensions”, the speakers said
while addressing at a conference titled, “Water and Energy Security in Pakistan:
the Way Forward” organized by Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI).

Dr. Vaqar Ahmed, Deputy Executive
Director, Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), Islamabad speaking
on the occasion said that primary energy consumption had grown by 80 percent
and poor system of policy framework had further worsened the situation. He said
that cost of not taking action now would badly affect the economy and
necessitated effective management of issues with regard to the energy sector.

He said that energy governance
was the most crucial aspect which included Independence of governing boards,
induction of professional management, strengthening of regulatory bodies’
oversight and appropriate legislative changes to allow deregulation. In
addition to that, energy pricing was another aspect which included phasing out
subsidies, rationale for pricing i.e. producer and consumer pricing, economic
basis for all sectoral pricing and full cost recovery of service provided.

Highlighting the long term
solutions, he said that energy crisis could be dealt by developing national
consensus on hydro and coal sources (e.g. dams and Thar coal), multi-buyer and
multi- seller private sector energy market, insulating gas sector from security
threats, incentives oil exploration (removal of subsidies on other sources) and
vision and capacity for renewable. He also suggested that there should be only
one ministry for the energy sector so that things could be aligned under one
authority.

A Researcher Dr. Shaheen Akhtar highlighted that no scientific study had been
done on the Indus Basin, saying that Pakistan needed to follow a holistic water
resource management strategy to deal with internal and transboundary water
issues. She said that Pakistan must address its domestic water resource
management as huge amount of water was consumed in agricultural sector and
overpumping and inefficient irrigation techniques had led to sharply declining
groundwater levels, loss of wetlands and salinization of agricultural lands.

Mustansar. H. Billah, researcher
at IPRI said that among traditional renewables- nuclear and hydro, Pakistan
should focus on hydroelectricity generation. Though nuclear potential should
not be completely abandoned but it would require high standard of security for
energy production.

Mr Mustansar said, “we could benefit from technological advancements in the renewable
energy i.e. solar and wind.” As India, China and European countries were
getting benefitted from these sources.” Similarly, Pakistan should step up its
efforts to accord with Iran on TAPI gas pipeline in order to meet the challenge
of energy shortage.