The government has cleared the 1,410-megawatt Tarbela fifth extension project at a cost of Rs80 billion, which will enhance hydroelectric power generation capacity of the country’s second largest reservoir to 6,300MW.
The Central Development Working Party (CDWP), which met here on Wednesday, gave the go-ahead to the Tarbela project, which would now be placed before the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (Ecnec) for final approval.Federal Minister of Planning, Development and Reform Ahsan Iqbal chaired the meeting.
The CDWP cleared about a dozen development schemes costing Rs102 billion including Rs42 billion in foreign financing.
The Tarbela fifth extension project is slated to be completed in four years. The availability of finances will be a critical factor in completing the scheme on time as the government has already diverted almost half of the development budget for infrastructure projects.
Work on the fourth extension of Tarbela with a capacity of 1,410MW is already under way and the government desires to complete it before the next general elections in 2018.
The World Bank had approved a mix of concessionary and expensive loans amounting to $840 million for adding 1,410MW to the generation capacity of Tarbela under the fourth extension. After its completion, the reservoir’s production capacity will rise to 4,888MW, which the government wants to boost to 6,300MW through the fifth extension.
The CDWP also cleared a project of the Pakistan Railways for the procurement and manufacturing of 585 hopper and 25 bogie vans for coal transportation. This will cost Rs6 billion including Rs4 billion in foreign loans.
The CDWP also recommended the 20MW Hanzel Gilgit hydroelectric power project for the approval of Ecnec. It will cost Rs6.3 billion and will be completed in four years. A sum of Rs1 billion has already been earmarked for this project in the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) for 2015-16.
In another energy-sector scheme, a 220-kilovolt transmission system reinforcement project for Islamabad and Burhan worth about Rs3.5 billion was recommended for Ecnec’s approval.
The CDWP has powers to approve projects costing up to Rs3 billion and recommends others having a higher value for Ecnec’s consideration.
The approved projects were mainly related to energy, environment, health, transport and communication sectors as well as the Ministry of Planning. An amount of Rs1.15 billion has already been earmarked for these projects in the PSDP.
The CDWP approved seven projects including the development of Reverse Linkage between Marmara Research Centre, Turkey and Pakistan Meteorological Department, which would cost Rs101 million. The project will be completed in two years.
Apart from this, the construction of a 200-bed cardiac hospital in Gilgit was approved, which would cost Rs2.6 billion and would be completed in three years.
The construction of staff quarters for the Ministry of Railways in Sindh and Punjab also won the CDWP’s approval. It will cost Rs475 million and is expected to be completed in 15 months.
The body also gave green signal to the Sanam, Palai and Kundal dam in Swabi costing about Rs2.4 billion. It will be completed in three years.
Three schemes of the Ministry of Planning including the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor support project valuing Rs409 million, the National Initiatives for Sustainable Development Goals worth Rs1 billion and the Integrated Transport Infrastructure Planning and Management Unit worth Rs300 million were also approved.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 2nd, 2015.