“This is a very special day in my life. We have electricity in our village and it’s free of cost. Previous generations lived their lives in darkness but no longer will the coming generations,” said Imtiaz, a 9th grade student, after the installation of a micro-hydel power station (MHP) at their village, funded by United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and Sarhad Rural Support Programme (SRSP).
Located some 20 kilometres away from Mingora, Kabir Kakot is a village deprived of the very basic facility of life. Adding to its misery was the havoc wreaked by the recent floods when the need of electricity was felt intensely.
“There are no high schools in our area and the closest one is about 10 kilometres away so I have to walk 20 kilometres every day to get any sort of education. Computer science is my ideal subject but I have never even used a computer. Hopefully, I will be able to arrange one for my personal use now,” Imtiaz added.
Swat district has not been exempt from the general shortage of electricity faced across the country; there is more than 15 hours of load shedding in the district, paralysing social activities in the region.
Anwar Ali, an engineer and expert involved with micro-hydel power stations told The Express Tribune, “I wonder why the government doesn’t utilise the plentiful water in Swat. We can produce surplus electricity and even sell it to other districts with the water resources in Swat. SRSP and UNHCR is doing great job to provide electricity free of cost.”
According to the experts, 3 megawatt MHPs can be installed along the Swat River, every three kilometres, and the smaller rivers and streams have great potential to run turbines.
“Turbines run by water can not only produce enough electricity but they can also power many other works too,” Anwar suggested, adding, “Many countries are taking great advantage of their water resources by using MHPs. They even sell electricity to other countries.”
District Coordination Officer Swat Kamran Rehman appreciated UNHCR and SRSP for funding the innovative project at the inauguration ceremony for bringing electricity to the rural areas. He said that the local government will always support the initiative taken by SRSP by addressing the power crisis issue.
Micro-hydel power stations can be installed with a small supply of water— this can be a mountain stream or a river— which can provide electricity to isolated locations.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 3rd, 2011.