Cogen plant may run if damaged machinery replaced

KARACHI: In February 2008, former military ruler General (retd) Pervez Musharraf inaugurated a first of its kind Co-Generation (Cogen) project at the southern tip of the DHA Phase VIII for desalinating seawater and producing electricity from it but six years have passed the plant could not be utilized and its electricity and water could not be used for commercial purposes as it developed several technical faults off and on after becoming operative and was ultimately shut down in 2010.

The project was initiated by the Defence Housing Authority and a Singapore-based company, Sacoden, which joined hands to form a company called Defence Cogen Limited (DCL), however, soon after the plant had started operations in 2008, the company changed hands and AEI Asia (Hong Kong), which is a subsidiary of Ashmore Funds (Houston, USA), acquired the plant’s shares and became the majority shareholder of the company.

The plant was installed to provide 80-megawatt electricity and desalinate three million gallons of seawater a day to make it drinkable and sell it to the Clifton Cantonment Board, so that it could be distributed in areas of the DHA where water is scarce but till the date, the plant could not be used commercially.

A source privy to the operation of the plant told PPI that the staff at the plant was only assigned duty for preserving the machinery from rust and corrosion. He said that the saline atmosphere has badly damaged the machinery and it would require one year to overhaul entire machinery and bring it in running condition.

Talking to PPI at his office, spokesman for DHA, Major (retd) Aurangzeb was still hopeful for the plant to be operational and said that it could still be made operational as two tests were carried out by the authorities, which proved successful. “Third Party Evaluation and Root Cause Analysis tests were carried out by the authorities and they were declared successful by them. Root cause analysis report had stated that the plant is in a position to be operated if damaged parts are replaced,” he said.

The spokesman said that the plant was essential for the DHA residents as beside electricity supply, it would be helpful in curbing acute water shortage in the area. “DHA residents pay millions for water supply through tankers in a month and if this plant is operational, this cost would be lowered to a great extent.”

He said that voltage fluctuation and saline environment were the two major reasons behind the faults in the plant. Higher authorities in the government were also concerned over the failure of the project and soon a meeting of all stakeholders would be convened to take initiative on the project, said Aurangzeb.

He claimed that the AEI Asia (Hong Kong), which is the major stakeholder in the project, has backed out from the project; however, he did not tell whether the DHA would replace it by taking majority of the shares as it was planned by them in 2011 or another company would be invited for it.

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