Water and Power Minister Naveed Qamar said on Tuesday a ‘green channel’ would be introduced specifically for Chinese companies to remove bottlenecks and implement energy projects, including construction of dams and generation of power, on a fast-track basis.
The government has taken initiatives to set upfront tariffs for multiple fuel-based power projects, operate and maintain public sector power generation companies through the private sector and convert independent power plants to cheaper fuels in a bid to attract private sector investment, he said.
Qamar was speaking at the concluding session of the first China-Pakistan Joint Energy Working Group meeting held in Beijing. National Energy Administration’s Deputy Administrator Qian Zhimin led the Chinese side during the talks. According to a press release issued here, the minister said the growing energy demand in Pakistan was a challenge for the government, yet it provided immense opportunities for Chinese investors to contribute to reducing shortages while sharing benefits.
“As per estimates of Pakistan Electric Power Company (Pepco), there is a deficit of around 5,000 megawatts in our system, which can further rise due to rapidly increasing power demand,” he said.
“The identified hydropower potential in the country is around 60,000 megawatts, most of which is economically exploitable. In contrast, the existing installed hydropower capacity is less than 20 per cent of the potential,” he said.
“Our total coal reserves, which are largely in Thar, are estimated to be around 185 billion tons. Even if half of these deposits are exploited properly, an additional 100,000 megawatts will be generated for the next 30 years,” he said.
Later addressing a press conference at the Pakistani Embassy, Qamar said if any project faced hurdles in implementation, these would be removed by streamlining official channels. He said around 80 per cent of energy projects in Pakistan were being developed with Chinese assistance.
To a question about Indian concerns over hydropower projects of Pakistan, the minister said it was very clear that the plants were being built in lower riparian areas, adding if Pakistan or India had any complaints they could utilise the provisions of the Indus Water Treaty, which had been signed by both the countries.
Moreover, he said, an international arbitration channel was also available for this purpose.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 3rd, 2011.
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