The untapped power potential of AJK
Experts have described the state's potential resources as"gold"; why are its rulers ignoring the energy goldmine?
On a recent visit to my hometown Chakothi in Azad Kashmir, I felt disconnected from the rest of the world due to the perpetual darkness I endured for two days.
Azad Kashmir is said to have an enormous potential for producing hydropower – up to 17,000 megawatts. The state continues to witness many rulers making tall claims about developing it up to the standards of Dubai or Paris – something that does not seem like a hard task given AJK’s relatively small size in terms of population (3.2 million).
Azad Kashmir consumes around 300 to 400 megawatts of power only, making the surplus electricity available for sale to the rest of Pakistan. However, unfortunately no concrete steps have been taken to unlock the immense potential of electricity production in the valley, leaving most of Pakistan in darkness – literally.
The incumbent prime minister Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan after being elected in 2006 promised to provide electricity and gas to Kashmir valley via Chakothi town and Sialkot. This promise seems like a joke now as most of the valley is faced with horrific power cuts in the scorching summer as well as in the chilling winter.
In fact, not even 10 megawatts of electricity has been added to the production capacity in the last ten years of the Muslim Conference rule.
Four hydro-power stations, including AJK’s largest 33 megawatt-project at Jagran in Neelum valley, were damaged by the devastating floods last year. Six months on, they still have not been restored.
Energy experts have described the state’s potential in energy resources as “gold in AJK’s streams” as many projects can be built over just one stream of the three rivers that flow from Azad Kashmir.
Yet, ironically, the rulers seem to be least interested. I, for one, am stunned by the tall claims and laughable promises made by the rulers to make Azad Kashmir a model state like Dubai or Paris.