Gilgit-Baltistan: Private Sector Reluctant to Invest in Hydel Power Generation in GB

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LAHORE  (December 09, 2010) : Private sector is reluctant to invest in hydel power generation projects to tap the 50,000 MW electricity potential in Gilgit Baltistan mainly because of the absence of national grid station to transmit electricity to rest of the country.

Although, the federal government has relaxed its policies to induce private sector in hydel power generation, yet it did not provide any document containing solid and concrete framework to the government of Gilgit Baltistan, said former president Mian Anjum Nisar of Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s while talking to Business Recorder on Wednesday.

The government should ask the World Bank and other donor countries to support Pakistan in building such mega projects which were lifeline for the local industry, he maintained. Pakistan’s electricity demand is rising by 12 percent on an annual basis and thus the country would be requiring additional amount of 13000 MW within next five years to meet the growing demand. Pakistan could not get out of the energy deficiency even after completion of Diamir Basha Dam in Kyber-Pakhtoonkhaw and Bhoji, a run of river project in Gilgit Baltistan. Diamir Basha Dam would take at least eight years to complete provided work is started according to schedule.

Diamir Basha Dam and Bhoji have potential of producing 4500MW and 7100MW electricity but average may remain at 2200MW and 3200MW round the year, he added. Nisar further said the Gilgit Baltistan government claims to have potential of 50,000MW electricity without constructing mega dams in the province, as glaciers exist at the height of 16,000 feet that could help produce cheaper electricity. The cost of hydel power would not be more than three percent per unit, which could benefit not only to the domestic consumers but also to the industrial sector. In presence of current tariff rate, which has been announced to be increased by two percent on monthly basis, the export items would be no more competitive in the international market.

Consequently, Pakistan may lose its share in the world market, which in turn would leave serious negative impact on the country’s economy, he maintained. Apart from Gilgit Baltistan, the Azad Jammu and Kashmir government also claims to have same potential in power generation. “It is our misfortune that we are missing the huge potential of electricity production and enhanced reliance on thermal power generation, which is not only putting economic pressure on the general public but also adding to the oil import bill,” he added.

Despite the fact, the IPPs have production capacity of 18,000 to 19,000MW were running under the capacity mainly because of circular debt which was rising day by day, he maintained.

Pakistan was blessed with huge and precious natural resources which could bring turnaround in the country’s economic situation but it needed strong political will on the part of sitting rulers, Nisar said. He added that coal transportation to the upcountry areas was much greater than transmission of electricity; the government should set up at least 15000MW coal-based power generation plants near Karachi. Apart from tapping the coal deposits, the government could also take immediate steps for producing wind energy for which our country has substantial length of costal area.

Nisar also said the timely and prudent steps to overcome the current energy issue would not only help Pakistan save foreign exchange being spent on import of oil for the thermal plants but would also give a boost to the industrial sector besides enhancing the country’s exports share in the GDP. He also stressed the need for taking bold and concrete decision in the national interest to save the country’s future.

Courtesy: Business Recorder

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