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WAPDA aims to produce 20,000MW hydropower by 2017

LAHORE: The Water and Power Development Authority is on target to increase hydro-electric power generation three times from current 6,500 megawatts to over 20,000MW by 2017 which would bring hydropower generation on a par with thermal electricity.

WAPDA Chairman Shakeel Durrani stated this in an exclusive talk with The News. He said the projects which would be completed during that period included 969MW Neelum-Jhelum project, 4,500MW Diamer-Basha, 4,710MW Bunji and 3,700MW Dasu. Barring Neelum-Jhelum, he added, all these projects would be located on different sites of River Indus. In addition, about 1,000MW would be added to Tarbela by installing new turbines on one of its tunnels.

“It is imperative for Pakistan to exploit its hydro-electric power generation potential as it is the cheapest source of power. WAPDA has speeded up this process which will go a long way in bringing cost of electricity to a reasonable level.”

He hoped hydro-electric generation, if accompanied with expected exploitation of coal potential, would substantially reduce dependence on gas and furnace oil and bring down power generation cost.

“Arranging finances for hydro-electric generation is relatively easy as multilateral agencies give positive signals to hydro-electric projects because they are environment-friendly and commercially viable. Investment in these projects can be recovered in a short period,” he said.

Durrani said financial resources required for $2.1bn Neelum-Jhelum hydropower project had been arranged. WAPDA would generate $1 billion from 10 paisa per unit surcharge on consumers which has been allowed to it for seven years. Besides that, $750 million financing has been promised by the Islamic Development Bank, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi funds and the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries. China would arrange the balance of $448 million in the form of supplier credit.

He said a residential colony and offices for the contractor and consultants of Neelum-Jhelum project were almost complete, adding work on two tunnels had started. “The Chinese are also imparting on-job training for constructing tunnels to Pakistani engineers.”

Durrani said WAPDA would need $11.3 billion for construction of Diamer-Basha dam, including $3.5 billion mark-up which would accumulate during the construction of the project. The amount, he added, would be payable in installments after the dam became operational.

The payments would pose no problem as the dam would generate its own resources. “Actual amount needed to complete the dam is $8 billion.”

The WAPDA chairman said the Asian Development Bank had agreed in principle to be the major financier of the project, adding the Islamic Development Bank and financial institutions in the Middle East had shown interest to provide the balance amount. Pakistan government and WAPDA, he added, would provide funds worth $1 billion for land acquisition, establishment of nine model villages for displaced people and for construction of new highways as some part of the present highway would come under water. Moreover, $3 billion would be arranged as supplier credit.

“The response of financiers of hydro-electric projects is encouraging.”

WAPDA was undertaking one mega hydro-electric project every year, he said, adding work on Neelum-Jhelum project started last year.

Construction work on Basha dam would begin this year while Tarbela extension project would start next year.

Source: The News

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