Islamabad: Power-starved Pakistan on Wednesday received a major boost as a China-backed 340 MW nuclear power plant in its Punjab province was inaugurated by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who termed it as an “important milestone” in the government’s efforts to end the menace of load shedding.
The fourth nuclear plant Chashma-3 is located about 250 kilometres southwest of capital Islamabad at Chashma in Mianwali district where another plant Chashma-IV is also being built.
Sharif described the completion of C-3 as “another important milestone in the journey to eliminate the menace of load shedding from the country,” Radio Pakistan reported.
He said the project is reflective of closer cooperation between Pakistan and China in science and technology.
“This cooperation is also beginning of a new era of development in the region,” he said.
Sharif expressed confidence that Chashma-IV nuclear power plant would also become operational before its deadline of mid next year.
Chashma two and three power plants are the most efficient plants in the country, providing more than 600 MW of electricity to the national grid. Pakistan’s first nuclear plant was supplied by Canada in 1972.
Sharif appreciated Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) for its efforts for self reliance in fuel fabrication and said his government would extend every possible assistance to the Commission to help overcome the shortage of electricity in the country.
Referring to the generation target of 8,800 MW of nuclear energy by 2030, Sharif urged the Commission to accept the challenge of producing more than the target and play its full role in the development of the country.
Noting that there has been a marked reduction in load shedding during the last three years, Sharif pledged that the menace of load shedding would be over in 2018.
Sharif said generation of additional 2200 MW of electricity through K-II and K-III would contribute towards this effort.
Pakistan has been grappling with power shortage and the unusually long hours of power outages has been haunting its people for about a decade.
Sharif urged PAEC to take all possible measures to strengthen safety of existing and future power plants as per international standards.
Sharif thanked China for extending cooperation in nuclear field and said the two countries are actively cooperating in many other areas, including construction of roads, motorways, airports and upgradation of Pakistan Railways.
He said many projects were initiated under CPEC and their impact was now visible.
These projects are being implemented speedily and this would result in overcoming challenges of unemployment, poverty, backwardness and accelerating the pace of socio economic development, besides bringing all regions of the country more closer, he said.