Although 26 hydropower projects of 37,312 megawatts are in the pipeline to meet energy needs of the country, engineers have expressed concern that lack of political will may further delay these projects.
Of the 26 projects, most of which are planned on Indus River, feasibility studies of 12 plants having capacity of 31,879 megawatts are expected to be completed soon, after which construction work on dams can be started. However, work on feasibility studies of the remaining 14 projects is yet to start.
Engineers of the National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC) express hope that if these projects are executed in time, then power crisis will come to an end in coming years.
The 12 projects which are in the pipeline are Bunji dam having capacity to produce 7,100 megawatts of electricity, Bhasha Dam (4,500MW), Dasu Dam (4,320MW), Pattan Dam (2,800MW), Thakot Dam (2,800MW), Neelum Jhelum Dam (96MW), Azad Pattan Dam (650MW), Suki Kinari Dam (840MW), Kohala Dam (1,100MW), Yulbo Dam (3,000MW), Tungas Dam (2,200MW) and Skardu Dam (1,600MW).
The engineers have declared the construction of dams as a must for the country, saying rental power projects are an interim solution.
During a media visit to Bhasha, Shangla district, arranged by NTDC and Pakistan Electric Power Company (Pepco), the engineers said though big dams, like Bhasha and Neelum Jhelum, required at least five to six years to be completed, in the meantime they were trying to increase hydropower generation through small dams and three power houses Duber Khwar, Khan Khwar and Allai Khwar of 324 megawatts.
An engineer, requesting anonymity, told The Express Tribune “we have required technology along with the manpower to construct dams by the stipulated time, but we are bound by government decisions. In the current crisis when industries are shifting to other countries, government officials have still to take a final decision whether to go for big dams or rely on IPPs and rental power plants.”
He said dams were the cheapest mode of electricity as the price was around Rs1.25 per unit whereas the price of independent power plants was much higher.
NTDC Lahore Deputy Manager Extra High Voltage Muhammad Ishaq said in order to connect the three new power plants to the national grid, NTDC had installed a 220-kilovolt double-circuit transmission line spread over 246 km. With this transmission line, he said, 325MW hydropower from the three stations had been supplied to Islamabad from Mansehra in a record time. He said NTDC had also connected eight independent power plants of 1,725MW to the national grid. The plants included Nishat Power of 200MW, Nishat Chunian of 200MW, Hub Narowal of 225MW, Liberty Power Faisalabad of 200MW, Atlas Power Sheikhupura of 225MW, Saif Power Sahiwal of 225MW, Halmour Power Sheikhupura of 225MW and Orient Power Baloki of 225MW. Work on 425MW Nandipur power plant was in progress, he added.
Ishaq said planning was under way to start generating electricity from 26 dams, for which a British company had also been hired. He said for the import of 1,000 megawatts of electricity from Iran, the laying of transmission lines was in final stages.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 4th, 2011.