The government has hired 12 rental power plants made in the 1990s, six of them from China, to overcome power shortage, according to the record of the National Assembly library. One of the plants was, however, manufactured way back in 1984. According to knowledgeable sources, the government overlooked the dates of manufacture or where the plants were made since operators guarantee provision of relevant maintenance under the rental service agreement.

The government had to face embarrassment after it failed to end loadshedding by the end of December, belying a repeated pledge made by Water and Power Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf last year.

Record shows that one of the acquired power plants, having a capacity of 110 megawatts, was made in the US way back in the mid-1980s. It has been hired for three years.

A China-made plant, with 1,990MW capacity, was made in 1990. Under the agreement, it will run for five years.

The ministry had hired another plant made in China to produce 200MW for three years. It was made in 1993.

The fourth plant, provided by China, was manufactured in 1994. It will be used to produce 62MW for five years.

Two more plants, hired from private Chinese bidders, had been made in 1995-96. They are capable of producing 201MW and 155MW for five years.

Record shows that two other rental plants – one each from the US and Switzerland – would produce 265MW and 65MW, respectively, do not carry any manufacturing date.

The government argued that penalties at the rate of 1.5 times of monthly rent would be imposed if the plants did not perform at an optimum level as prescribed in contracts. The government can also cancel contracts and or impose the above mentioned penalties if the plant did not exceed 10 per cent or more of the prescribed level.

Agreements for these plants say after the completion of the contract, the contractor is at liberty to shift the plants to either their countries of origin or to a country of contractors’ choice.

A controversy erupted soon after the government decided to hire outdated power plants to overcome power shortages.

Mr Ashraf denied allegations against himself and his ministry and recently accused members of the opposition of raising unnecessary hue and cry which, according to him, had pushed the fulfilment of his promise to end loadshedding back by six months.