The prime minister says his government is making efforts to overcome the power crisis by undertaking hydel‚ coal‚ wind and solar power projects to add more electricity to the national grid.
“Let’s not politicise the issue. Let’s join hands to overcome this crisis,” Premier Raja Pervaiz Ashraf told a ceremony after inaugurating two tunnel boring machines (TBMs) following their successful installation at one of the sites of the 969MW Neelum-Jhelum hydropower project near Thotha Majoi in Muzaffarabad.
The project is being undertaken to establish priority water rights over the Neelum and Jhelum rivers, as India is also constructing Kishanganga project upstream of Neelum-Jhelum hydropower project.
The project, scheduled to be completed in 2016, will contribute about 5.15 billion units of electricity per year to the national grid. The project is expected to pay back its cost in about seven years.
“With the installation of the two Germany-made state-of-the-art TBMs, Pakistan has joined the few countries that are using these high-tech machines in execution of their water and hydropower sector projects, a project supervisor told the prime minister.
Premier Ashraf blamed the energy crisis on the previous government – but added that his administration was striving hard to rectify the situation.
“We are focusing on developing indigenous hydropower resources to generate affordable electricity. Economic and social energy requirements are met with compact and comprehensive strategy.” he added.
The premier said the PPP-led government has added 3,300MW to the national grid during the last four and a half years. Since most of new projects are thermal‚ electricity generated here is relatively expensive. But now the government is focusing on hydel power and alternative resources to make electricity affordable, he added. “I’ll soon visit the Thar coal project in Sindh to see the progress on the project.”
The Neelum-Jhelum hydropower project is being constructed by international firms, especially the Chinese.
Premier Asharaf thanked the Chinese government for its sustained support in various sectors. Relations between China and Pakistan are unbreakable, he added.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, AJK Prime Minister Chaudhry Abdul Majeed said the region is gifted with abundant natural resources. “AJK has a potential to generate 40,000MW electricity. If the full potential is exploited, we can easily overcome the power crisis once and for all,” he claimed.
Minister for Water and Power Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar said that the Neelum-Jhelum hydropower project would cost Rs274.8 billion, and it would contribute 969MW electricity to the national grid.
Other than that, a slew of projects, including Diamir Bhasha Dam, Munda Dam and Mangla Dam upraising, would be completed soon to overcome the electricity crisis.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 7th, 2012.