$7.5 billion CPEC hydropower projects may reduce Pakistan’s reliance on foreign fuel by 2026

A view of hydel power project under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) built on Jehlum river. (Photo courtesy: Chairman CPEC Authority Asiam Saleem Bajwa twitter)
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Updated 12 July 2020

$7.5 billion CPEC hydropower projects may reduce Pakistan’s reliance on foreign fuel by 2026

  • The hydropower projects in Pakistan-administered Kashmir are likely to create 8,000 jobs
  • China is constructing more than $20 billion worth of energy projects in Pakistan under the economic corridor arrangement

KARACHI: Pakistan’s plan to add four new hydropower projects with Chinese assistance at a cost of $7.5 billion in the next six years would reduce its reliance on oil and gas purchased from international market and lower its import bill substantially, officials and stakeholders said on Saturday.

The country recently signed an agreement with a transnational corporation, China Gezhouba Group, for the construction of Azad Pattan Hydropower Project for $1.5 billion under the second phase of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

A tripartite agreement was also signed on June 25 for the construction of Kohala Hydropower Project.

The two power generation facilities will be built in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and are going to produce 1,800 megawatts (MW) of clean energy after their completion in 2026. They are also expected to create 8,000 jobs, according to CPEC chairman Asim Saleem Bajwa. 

The projects will also benefit the Kashmir government since it will receive water use charges and take ownership of these plants after the completion of agreed terms.

“The government of Azad Kashmir will take over the projects after 30 years as per the agreement,” Sardar Naveed Sadiq, Chairman of Kashmir Board of Investment, told Arab News.

Two other hydropower projects, Karot and Suki Kinari, are scheduled to commence operations in December 2021 and December 2022, respectively. They are built at a cost of $3.65 billion and will produce 1,590 MW.

China is helping Pakistan with nearly 20 power sector projects worth more than $20 billion, according to the Private Power and Infrastructure Board (PPIB). Four of them have already started commercial production.

The country’s focus on hydropower generation has increased the share of this specific energy component in the overall mix from 25.8 percent to 31 percent this year, according to the latest Pakistan Economic Survey.

“Our initial focus was on coal but we are now focusing on hydel projects. The issues have been resolved and tripartite agreements of Kohala and Azad Pattan were recently signed,” Dr. Liaqat Ali Shah, CPEC’s project director, told Arab News.

“At present, we are generating surplus energy, but we have transmission problems,” he said, adding: “As we go forward and set up huge industries in Special Economic Zones, the demand for power will also surge. That should tell you why we need to increase our energy portfolio.”

Pakistan’s estimated hydropower generation capacity stands at 60,000 MW, though the country is only utilizing about 11,000 MW of that potential annually.

“The country’s power sector is deteriorating and desperately needs to be restructured. We can rapidly reduce 20 percent reliance on imported fuel, however, by making a few changes to it,” Khalid Faizi, international hydropower consultant and founder of Laraib Group, a stakeholder in the Azad Pattan Power Project, told Arab News.

“The production cost of the hydropower plant is Rs0.50 per unit while oil-base power generation costs Rs14 per unit of electricity,” he added. “No one can beat power generated through hydropower production in terms of its cost and Pakistan needs more projects like these.”

Faizi said the Azad Pattan Power Project would produce 3.3 billion kilowatt hour (kWh) electricity per year to meet about 5 percent of the country’s energy requirement of around 130 billion kWh.

“The life of hydro projects is usually around 200 years. The life of solar and wind power projects is somewhere around 25 years and coal power projects can last for 30 years,” he continued. “Pakistan needs to set up long term projects.”

“Dams are used for many purposes other than power generation. They can be helpful with irrigation and flood control. They can also provide wonderful picnic spots. They do require a significant initial investment but offer clean and affordable energy for a much longer tenure,” he added.

At least 30 injured in grenade attack in Pakistan at Kashmir rally

Updated 05 August 2020

At least 30 injured in grenade attack in Pakistan at Kashmir rally

  • The attack was claimed by Sindhudesh Revolutionary Army, a separatist outfit that has become active in the past months
  • Organized by Jamaat-e-Islami, a religious right party, the rally was called off after the attack

KARACHI: At least 30 people were injured in a grenade attack on a rally in Karachi on Wednesday, as Pakistan marked the first anniversary of India’s revocation of Kashmir’s semi-autonomy.
The wounded were rushed to different hospitals, where one was in a critical condition, an official from the provincial health department said.
“A grenade was lobbed in the rally, causing several casualties,” Karachi police chief Ghulam Nabi Memon told Reuters.
The attack was claimed by Sindhudesh Revolutionary Army, a separatist outfit that has become active in the past months.
In June, four people were killed including two soldiers in three consecutive explosions claimed by the SRA.
The group wants Sindh province, of which Karachi is the capital, to break from the Pakistani federation. It has also announced its alliance with the Balochistan Liberation Army, a militant group fighting for greater autonomy for the Balochistan region in southwestern Pakistan.
The attack took place as similar rallies were held across the country. The Karachi rally, organized by Jamaat-e-Islami, a religious right party, was called off after the attack.
Last August, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government stripped Jammu and Kashmir — India’s only Muslim-majority state — of its special rights and split it into two federally administered territories.
The government said the change was necessary to develop the revolt-torn region and integrate it with the rest of India, but it infuriated many Kashmiris as well as neighboring Pakistan.
Kashmir is claimed in full by India and Pakistan, which have gone to war twice over it, and both rule parts of it.
Indian authorities deployed troops and curbed public movement on Wednesday to stop potential protests in Kashmir.