ISLAMABAD: A tripartite agreement was signed on Thursday between a Chinese company and the governments of Pakistan and China for the construction of 1,124 megawatt Kohala Hydropower Project costing $2.4 billion.
The signing ceremony, held at the PM Office, was witnessed by Prime Minister Imran Khan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider, federal cabinet members, Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing, China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Authority Chairman Lt Gen (retd) Asim Saleem Bajwa and representatives of Chinese company.
It is the largest power sector investment in a single Independent Power Producer (IPP).
Kohala Hydropower Project, being built on Jhelum River in Azad Kashmir under CPEC, has been awarded to the Kohala Hydropower Company Ltd (KHCL), which is a subsidiary of China’s Three Gorges Corporation (CTGC).
Addressing the signing ceremony, the prime minister, while terming the agreement a "great step" towards foreign investment, said Pakistan should have invested in hydropower sector far earlier.
The prime minister said exploiting the potential of the country’s water resources for electricity generation was the way forward, as he slammed the previous government for thermal power generation from imported fuel.
The prime minister said that it was a crime to build a power house in Pakistan based on imported fuel. “The use of imported fuel has increased electricity tariff and [ultimately] increased the current account deficit,” Imran said.
“Power projects based on imported fuels have not only harmed Pakistan economically but also our environment,” he added. “Pakistan has the potential to generate electricity from water and this [Kohala Hydro Project] project is the one way forward.”
The agreement was signed under the framework of CPEC. Imran said that the Kohala Hydro Project would create jobs for the youth of Azad Kashmir and generate affordable and environmentally-friendly electricity for the country.
“The huge investment for Pakistan in Kohala Hydro Project under CPEC is a very important development. We have to provide employment to the youth at this time, this project will give jobs to the youth from Azad Kashmir,” he said.
Later, Lt Gen (retd) Asim Saleem Bajwa, the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information, termed the signing of the tripartite agreement “a historic day” saying that all the stakeholders had worked hard for it.
“With Prime Minister Imran Khan’s clear direction to expedite the CPEC projects, all stakeholders worked hard to bring this day,” Bajwa tweeted. He added that a huge power sector investment of $2.4 billion was “going to be materialised in one Independent Power Producer (IPP)”.
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