In a bid to utilise the country’s vast coal resources and kick-start projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the Private Power and Infrastructure Board (PPIB) on Tuesday approved a 1,400-megawatt power generation project (four units of 350MW each) to be set up in Thar.
This is the second Thar coal-based independent power plant approved by the PPIB, which will be established by the Shanghai Electric Group Company of China. The first was a 660MW Engro power project.
The exploitation of Thar coal resources is a major step aimed at upgrading the area and developing a massive generation capacity using cheaper local coal that will help eliminate the energy crisis.
This is one of the projects given top priority and included in the CPEC, which will start power generation in 2017-18. The approval was granted in the 101st board meeting of the PPIB chaired by Federal Minister of Water and Power Khawaja Muhammad Asif.
The board also approved the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the PPIB, China Three Gorges Corporation and Silk Road Fund for the development of private hydroelectric power projects in Pakistan.
Silk Road Fund is a development fund recently created by the government of China, with main focus on infrastructure and energy development as well as industrial and road initiatives.
China Three Gorges Corporation is already developing three hydropower projects in Pakistan – 720MW Karot, 1,100MW Kohala and 590MW Mahl on Jhelum River – and has expressed interest in undertaking more projects.
To facilitate the projects initiated by Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, the PPIB granted a standardised tripartite Letter of Support.
Apart from this, the PPIB issued a Letter of Support to a 150MW coal-based power project in Arifwala, 1,200MW coal-fired projects in Sahiwal, 1,320MW imported coal-fired projects at Port Qasim and 1,320MW imported coal-based projects in Hub, Balochistan.
The PPIB managing director briefed the meeting on ongoing coal and hydroelectric power generation projects in the private sector, particularly the projects being processed under the CPEC.
The minister expressed optimism about the CPEC, terming it a ‘game changer’ that would result in economic development of Pakistan. He asked the PPIB to step up work on the projects to ensure their timely completion.
Emphasising the importance of cheap electricity, the minister directed the PPIB to facilitate investors. “Progress on all the projects – both new and ongoing – should be reviewed regularly so that they may not face any difficulty.”
Published in The Express Tribune, June 17th, 2015.