The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) on Wednesday approved five projects relating to energy and communication sectors costing Rs290 billion.

Ecnec meeting, chaired by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, considered proposals submitted by Ministry of Water & Power regarding 1230MW (gross) combined cycle power plant at Haveli Bahadur Shah, Jhang costing Rs 98,104.56 million and 1223 MW (gross) combined cycle power plant at Balloki, Kasur, costing Rs.92,336.02 million. After detailed discussion, Ecnec accorded approval, in principle, to both projects. The Committee also decided that federal ministers for water & power, petroleum & natural resources, the attorney general, provincial finance ministers, and federal secretary law will meet within a week to resolve the issue of interpretation of Article 154 of Constitution.

On a proposal of the Ministry of Communications, the ECNEC approved the revised Lyari Expressway Project at the rationalised cost of Rs11,521.00 million. The project involves construction of 16.162-km long and 13-meter wide controlled access 4-lane (2+2) expressway along Lyari River, passing through the metropolitan city of Karachi. Representative of NHA informed the Committee that the problems relating to land acquisition and resettlement had been resolved. The representative of government of Sindh informed that the provincial government was providing maximum facilitation for completion of the project.

ECNEC also considered and approved project for transportation of coal by rail to Jamshoro power plant at the revised scope and cost of Rs7,522.00 million. The project envisages rehabilitation of existing track of 17.99-km by replacing old rails with new rails of 54kg/m density and laying of two km new track for new loops at station and plant site with allied facilities for efficient transportation of coal to the power plants at Jamshoro.

ECNEC also considered and approved in principle proposal from Ministry of Water & Power regarding 1410MW Tarbela 5th Extension Hydropower project (PC-I) at an updated cost of Rs81091.0 million. The ministry was directed to firm up the cost estimates and also obtain NoC from IRSA. The project aims at installing three additional power generating units having capacity of 470MW each in existing tunnel 5 without affecting the capacity for irrigation release. The total installed capacity of Tarbela Dam after completion of Tarbela 4th Extension would reach 4888MW and after Tarbela 5th Extension it would further rise to 6298 MW.