Water scarcity demands revival of Cogen

June 3, 2015 Off By Web Desk

Karachi: It is tendency of corrupt bureaucracy all over the world to overlook simple solutions to problems and go for complicated and costly solutions to get maximum commission and kickbacks. This is also the case of Karachi as when this mega city is facing acute water shortage, the bureaucracy is thinking of costly rental water desalination plants, overlooking a very simple solution to get the non-functioning DHA Cogen desalination plant repaired and get plenty of sweet water for Karachiites.

The story of Cogen is one of the glaring failure stories of Karachi civic infrastructure schemes. 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. However, due to some ‘technical faults’ this plant could not be run and ultimately it was 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 plants 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, this multi-million dollar plant, meant to supply three million imperial gallons of water and 94 MW of power every day, could not be run even for a single day to produce water and electricity for the Karachiites.

According to specifications of the scheme the plant’s c power train by M/s. Siemens, Germany includes a V 64.3A gas turbine and a steam turbine on a single shaft configuration together with a heat recovery steam generator (HRSG). The steam turbine is designed to exhaust steam directly to the two MED (multi effect distillation) plants to provide energy input to the MED desalination process. The MED units are being supplied by the leading international suppliers M/s. Alfa Laval, Denmark. The facility also includes the necessary support infrastructure in terms of fuel gas supply, seawater intake, 132KV Sub Station, water treatment, underground storage, workshop, stores, control room and administration offices for supply of water and electricity to the local distribution systems operated by CBC/DHA and KESC (now KE) respectively.

However DHA now shows disassociation of DHA with the project, saying it was not the project of DHA but it was a separate private project. DHA has only provided land as a welfare act for the project. The project has been built on a costly 10-acre land in DHA Phase-VIII near Do Darya area right on the edge of the sea.

Presently, the plant is non-functional. Some staff at the plant is only assigned duty for preserving the machinery from rust and corrosion. The saline atmosphere has badly damaged the machinery and it would some time to overhaul machinery and bring it in running condition.

If the local government department of Sindh, DHA, CCB join hands and take the ownership of this plant and get it repaired and run, it would provide a cost effective solution to the water scarcity problem of the city and there would be no need to go for ‘rental desalination plants’, as in past the scam of rental power plants had badly hit the reputation of ruling party of Sindh, Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarian (PPP), ousting it politically from other three provinces of the country and limiting it to be virtually a regional party of rural parts of Sindh province.