Daily Times Editorial 10 December 2019

Powerless wind corridors


It seems the government has literally taken the wind out of green energy investors’ sails after the Jhimpir wind farm came to a grinding halt last week because the centre stopped buying power supply from it. In fact, the downward slide in offtake from the wind corridor has been on for the last two months. The Jhimpir wind corridor supplies 980MW to the national grid, whereas the farms in Gharo, which supply renewable energy to K-Electric, are still on but those connected with the Central Power Purchasing Agency have suffered the shutdown for over a week leaving them in losses. Most of the wind farm investors are foreigners or have foreign lending, and have ‘must-run’ contracts with the government. In the winter, when there is less demand, surplus supply becomes a burden for the government. But the depressing part is that the government does not stop buying power supply from coal and regasified liquefied natural gas plants, which are powered by imported fuel and keep polluting the air. The drawback of the wind farms is the geographic location. Investors say the government’s main priority are the plants close to load centers of Punjab whereas the wind farms are located along the coastal line in Sindh.
The power drought in the last decade forced the government to also look to renewable energy sources, and the previous government made a policy on wind and solar farms. Under the policy, renewable power plants have no capacity payments in their Power Purchase Agreements, which means a drop in revenue. The recent shutdown is likely to put the investors in trouble. Already hit hard by the circular debt, these investors see no hope of filing invoices in the winter thanks to less demand. Prime Minister Imran Khan has said time and again that 30 per cent of power generation will be made through renewable energy sources by 2030. The treatment of Jhimpir wind corridor suggests otherwise. The government’s first priority should be keeping wind mills running because of their pro-environment factor; moreover, it will lessen burden on plants powered by imported and expensive fuel. There is a need to change the policy that renewable energy should get ‘must-run’ status. Moreover, more wind farms should be installed across the country where corridors are available. Let us blow the wind of change for the sake of safe air too. *


Kashmir issue in US Congress


The Modi government in India must be feeling the heat of a bipartisan resolution moved in the US Congress by two members, one of them an Indian-American, urging India to end the restrictions on communications and mass detentions in occupied Kashmir as swiftly as possible and preserve religious freedoms of all residents. The movers of Resolution 745 are Pramila Jayapal, a Democrat, who was born in Madras (Chennai), and Steve Watkins, a Republican. A few years ago, when Jayapal made it to Capitol Hill, all India celebrated the success as she was the first Indian-American woman to serve in the US House of Representatives. The other mover, Watkins, is a veteran of the Afghan war and served along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. The resolution underscores the need to recognise “arbitrary detention, use of excessive force against civilians, and suppression of peaceful expression of dissent as proportional responses to security challenges”. The resolution shook the conscience of Indian Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, who tweeted: “Restore Internet, End Detentions In Jammu&Kashmir, Says Bipartisan Resolution In US House. Admirable effort by US reps, whereas in our Parliament we have been unable even to have a discussion on the subject of Kashmir in the entire winter session. Shame.”
The ruling BJP is slamming the Indian Congress MP for awakening India towards the plight of Kashmiris. The Indian government may try to get the resolution blocked or ensure that it is not passed with the support of the Indian caucus in the US House, but it may not get away with the fallout of the move, which has lots of substance as an Indian-American has moved it. Moreover, the fresh resolution (745) is the first such resolution criticising the Indian government for restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir since 2000. Apart from the US, four Canadian human rights activists have pledged to raise the mass detention of Kashmiris at international forums. Since August 5, millions of Kashmiris in the Indian-occupied area have been under curfew and communication blackout and deprived of their special autonomous status. India has barred international journalists and other delegates from visiting the occupied valley. Several thousands of Kashmiris have been arrested and shifted to other parts of India, while pro-India Kashmiri leaders have also been detained since August 5. Let’s see how long the world allows the fascist Indian regime to keep the lock down on Kashmiris.

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