The park which is spread over 10,000 square kilometres in five districts of G-B is a natural habitat for over 10 species of wild animals and 12 rare species of birds. Some of the endangered species include marmot, snow leopard, markhor, ibex, blue sheep, brown bear, musk deer, Tibetan wild ass, and wolf. However, due to the absence of official records, the status of these species is not known.
“The huge park needs to be managed properly,” Muhammad Zafar Khan, a senior official at the World Wild Fund for Nature (WWF) Gilgit office, told media. He added that the lack of alternative livelihood opportunities for communities and uncontrolled mining in mountains are some of the issues that require attention. “Most of the local communities are unaware of the ecological importance of these species, which play a key role in keeping the ecological balance of the universe intact,” he said.
Khan suggested the use of biogas as an alternative to reduce dependency on forests. He said that one family having four cattle can meet an annual requirement of cooking through biogas produced by animal waste.
“But there are some areas where local communities take part in active conservation of wildlife, earning revenue from trophy hunting, which is legal,” he said.
He said the park hosts about 60 peaks above 7,000-metre-high, including 8,611-metre-high K2, which is the second highest peak in the world. Moreover, he said with a population of nearly 10 million in 230 villages, the park gets polluted by the tons of garbage thrown by tourists every year.
According to statistics, the park is annually thronged by about 4,000 visitors including trekkers, mountaineers, porters and visitors. Khan added that about 30,000 people associated with the mining sector are carrying out activities inside the park territory, adding that the act may result in the loss of habitat for various species. Besides governments, WWF and some small non-government organisations are working to manage the park.
The term alternative energy encompasses a variety of power generation sources. Generally, it refers to electrical power derived from renewable resources such as hydro, solar or wind energy, as opposed to one-off resources such as coal or uranium. The most common forms of alternative energy are solar power, wind power and micro-hydro power. The benefits of using renewable energy sources are considerable.
From an environmental standpoint, solar, wind and waterpower are all non-emission power sources.
Unlike coal combustion power plants, no harmful exhaust is produced when using alternative energy generators. There is also no worry about toxic or radioactive waste products, as there is with nuclear power. In addition to the lack of emissions and waste products, no valuable resources are “used up” with renewable resource power generation. If every home on earth were powered with an alternative energy system, it would never cause a shortage of wind, water or sunlight.
Especially for Pakistan where throughout the year energy crisis worse the economic development and now the gap between supply and demand of natural gas has reached nearly one billion cubic feet per day and government forced to cut gas supply for industrial sector of Punjab and CNG sector of Sindh. Increase in oil prices in the international market also generated lots of pressure on the economy. Many now believe that Pakistan needs to initiate a transition towards greater use of alternate and renewable energy as an indigenous, clean and abundant resource.
In terms of the renewable energy, hydropower is certainly the largest and most mature application of renewable and alternative energy technologies. Hydropower accounts for about 17 percent of the world’s total electricity generation and critically important for many countries; it produces more than 50 per cent of electricity for more than 60 countries. Currently 1010 gigawatts of hydropower generation capacity are in operation globally, and in the end of 2010, 30 gigawatts of new capacity were added.
Hydropower potential in Pakistan is over 100,000 MW with identified sites of 55000 MW.
At present, the rated electric power generating capacity in Pakistan is only 19000 MW with the demand growing at 10 per cent annually. The average per capita consumption is only 482 units. Power shortage in the industrial, agricultural and domestic sectors has been evident for the past few years with the shortage assuming critical proportions last year.
When Tarbela and Mangla dams were built about 50 years ago it was expected that a new reservoir of the size of Tarbela would need to be built every ten years to meet the challenge of water and increase the production of hydro power. However, only two minor additions have been made – some additional hydroelectricity capacity at Ghazi Barotha and the recent raising of Mangla dam. For decades a deadly combination of internal dissension and external prevarication precluded the building of new large dams and especially Kalabagh dam.
In all over the world, the need for dams is argued on four main points: more water for irrigation and agriculture; more storage capacity; more flood control; and more hydroelectric power.
Kalabagh dam has also these potential and it’s a need of the time. Every year during super floods, as much as 100 billion cubic meters of water flow downstream of Kotri Barrage, the last man-made barrier on the Indus River, into the Arabian Sea. This flow is termed a waste and, thereby, demonstrates the need for a third storage dam on the Indus. The Kalabagh dam is also considered justified on the grounds that existing dams are fast losing their storage capacity due to the build-up of silt deposits in their reservoirs-which has reduced water supply at a time when demand is increasing. Third, the scale of the emerging water shortage will adversely affect power generation and supply as well. Present energy shortages are about 5,000 megawatts (MW) per year and Kalabagh Dam project has its potential to produce 2400 MW of electric power.
Now, after reviewing the energy crisis, the International lenders have also asked the government to ‘reconsider Kalabagh dam’ as a priority water sector project. According to a report of the water task force of the Friends of Democratic Pakistan, lending agencies and bilateral development partners have also advised the government to impose a surcharge of about one US cent per kwh of electricity and $5 on each irrigated acre to raise $1.7 billion (Rs150 billion) to fund a key component of a host of infrastructure projects for irrigation, flood control and hydropower generation.
Despite knowing the fact that Pakistan wasted 38 MAF (million acres feet) of river water every year into the sea, Kalabagh remains shelved as a pipedream because of internal differences.
Dasu has power potential and hydrology quite comparable with Kalabagh Dam. It will also increase the life of Tarbela for another 20 years. Moreover, it has practically uniform during winter and interestingly it starts rising from February onwards.
Projects like this should have been initiated long back instead of keeping them dormant for so many years just to give an impression that Kalabagh Dam is the only project ready for implementation.
Even small dams could be constructed for developing our economy and small dams projects are much more feasible for Pakistan’s energy needs. These projects do not divert or store water, while they are also said to be environmentally sound. Run-of-the-river projects are quick and cheap to set up as well. However, the amount of power generated depends on the water flowing in the river; decreased flows mean less power. In a situation where every megawatt counts, it is baffling why the authorities have maintained a laissez-faire attitude towards developing small, run-of-the-river hydropower projects.
Dozens of potential small hydropower plants can be set up in every province of Pakistan and especially in Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir, with a production capacity of 2,000 MW. Northern areas possessing about 60,000MW of cheaper hydro resources, including over 25,000MW of simple run-of-the river, stand to gain from the ownership of this huge potential, if translated into reality. One can judge the potential of small dam by this reality that there are over 3000 small dams in Pennsylvania, and over 100,000 throughout the United States.
Small dams had proved beneficial all over the world for the local level poverty alleviation. In Pakistan also, most of these dams fall in either very poor or marginal areas like Awaran and Kharan in Balochistan or poverty-stricken interior Sindh.
The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council has working on almost 12 small dams in Sindh and Baluchistan. These 12 dams would have the capacity to store 2.5 million acre feet of water and produce 20.84MW power. They also had the potential to ensure return of the investment in six to seven years (about Rs82 billion). The stored water would be sufficient to irrigate more than 300,000 acres with traditional flood irrigation. The area could be doubled through sprinkle and drip irrigation.
Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhaw also worked on about more than two dozen small dams projects. After the construction of these dams and irrigation canals, cropping intensity and crop yield have increased. Due to availability of irrigation water there has been a shift of cropping pattern from wheat and forage crops to vegetable crops. Farmers are earning up to $2433 per ha per year. An analysis of inflow-outflow of the dams shows that, if properly managed, the storage is not only sufficient to irrigate all the croplands within the command area, but also increase the capacity of hydropower.
The importance of large and small dams for Pakistan can not be under-estimated, particularly for irrigated agriculture in the country. In Pakistan, irrigated agriculture covers 16.2 million hectare (74 per cent) out of the total cultivated area of 22 million hectare. Irrigated agriculture uses 97 per cent of the available water and provides over 90 per cent of agricultural, produce; it accounts for 25 per cent of GDP, earns 70 per cent of the export revenue and employs 50 per cent of the work-force directly and another 20 per cent indirectly.
Although the share of agriculture in GDP has declined over the years, however, it is still the largest single contributor to GDP. The sustainability of irrigated agriculture is threatened by continuous deterioration of the irrigation infrastructure.
It is estimated that there will be a shortfall in renewable water availability of 108 MAF by 2013. The corresponding shortfall in food grains alone is likely to be 12 million tons. This, it is stated, will put mainly two-fold burden on Pakistan’s meagre foreign exchange resources. First, additional foreign exchange will have to be allocated for the importation of food grains. Second, a drop in the production of export commodities such as rice, cotton, and textiles will mean the loss of foreign exchange earnings.
Large or small reservoirs are ostensibly needed to carry over water from wet months to dry months and from wet years to dry years. In Pakistan, water demand exceeds supply, leading to a crisis like situation almost every year. On an annual basis, the demand for water has led to maximum withdrawals from reservoirs, causing the Mangla and Tarbela dams to reach dead-level every single year. So there is a strong need to build dams not only for hydro purpose but also stop making Pakistan water starve country.
Flooding is a requirement for the fertilization of major areas of the agricultural land of the country, and is differentiated from catastrophic flooding, which causes loss of life and serious damage to agriculture and utilities.
The last year’s devastating floods had caused a loss of $10 billion to the economy and eaten up two per cent of the GDP. Dams and reservoirs can be effectively used to regulate river levels and flooding downstream of the dam by temporarily storing the flood volume and releasing it later.
The dams are operated by specific water control plan for routing floods through the basin without damage. This not only eliminates flooding, but provides other benefits such as water supply, irrigation, and hydropower and water quality. If government construct instead of Kalabagh several small dams in Sindh than flood water can be managed.
Along this, the western Himalayas, the Hindu Kush, Karakorum, and their associated mountain ranges are located in the north and northwest of Pakistan. It is in this area where some of the world’s highest peaks, as well as a concentration of glaciers and snow lakes surpassed only in the Polar Regions, are located, needs to construct small and large dams. Due to climate change the Glaciers in the Himalayas are melting at a rapid rate.
The glaciers of northern areas are an extremely precious resource, for the highlands and the lowlands, and this resource we must understand so that we can preserve it and utilize it in a sustainable way.
The water resources of the Himalayas, if used prudently and effectively, are a rich means of hydroelectric power generation. Dams being built in the Himalayan region can produce energy, sustain agriculture, conserve water, promote fisheries, and sustain communities.
Lastly, India continuously works to construct dams on rivers allocated to Pakistan according to Indus Basin Treaty. India had built about 4,291 dams and planned to build another 695 even on Pakistani rivers of Chenab and Jhelum, making Pakistan water starve country. Just taking the example of Baglihar dam, the treaty ensures a minimum flow of 55,000 cubic feet per second (cusecs) of water in the Chenab River.
In August-September 2008, however, India began to fill the Baglihar Hydroelectric Power Plant reservoir on the Chenab. As a result, river flows declined to 48,000 cusecs on August 25 and to 25,000 cusecs on September 4. Pakistan has lost about 2 MAF of water, and Pakistan’s wheat crop has been adversely affected. The government must save its water resources by constructing either small or large dams.
While dams provide significant benefits to our society, their impacts on the surroundings include resettlement and relocation, socioeconomic impacts, environmental concerns, sedimentation issues and safety aspects.
About 75 per cent of the total electricity consumed in South America is derived from hydropower. Japan, US, Russia and Turkey are the leading countries in the production and consumption of hydroelectric power. Canada, Norway, New Zealand, Switzerland and many other European countries have trapped most of their water sources and harnessed energy to generate electricity.
The availability of energy is essential for the socio-economic development of a nation. It is advantageous to use energy that is clean, efficient, dependable and renewable. Hydropower meets all of these requirements. In countries, where a vast amount of development still lies ahead, good conditions often exist for renewable energy sources. The technically most advanced and economical source of renewable energy is hydropower – Pakistan and Gulf Economist
Islamabad (News): Within six months of its inauguration by the prime minister, Islamabad’s first government-run medical educational institution is set to open its doors to a batch of 50 students.
Affiliated with the country’s premier Quaid-i-Azam University and having the city’s premier Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences as attached teaching hospital, Federal Medical and Dental College will invite applications for MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) admissions next week, a relevant official told ‘The News’ on Wednesday.
The official, who wished not to be named, said applicants would sit a written test to be conducted by the public sector National Testing Service whose tests and assessment are a precondition for admission and recruitment to the country’s many prime public and private sector educational institutions.
The results will be announced within 72 hours of the test, while the classes will begin in January, he said.
Originally, it was planned that PIMS would house the college until its premises in the National Institute of Health, Chak Shahzad got ready. However, the plan was later dropped after the hospital administration expressed inability to provide rooms for students to have lectures in.
Now, according to the official, the college is located on the NIH premises from where students will be taken to PIMS by buses for training.
The college will prioritise taking in Islamabad’s students but a few seats have also been reserved for candidates from all provinces, Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, he said, adding that professors, associate professors, assistant professors and demonstrators with experience in anatomy, physiology, psychology, biochemistry, internal medicine, pharmacology, and other disciplines will be appointed to it.
In April this year, Pakistan Medical and Dental Council, the regulator of medical and dental educational institutions in the country, recognised the college and gave the mandatory green light to admissions of 50 MBBS students for this year. The number of seats, including those of BDS (Bachelor of Dental Surgery), will later be enhanced to 200 a year.
When contacted, PIMS Executive Director Professor Dr Mehmood Jamal confirmed the imminent opening of the Federal Medical and Dental College admissions and said the college would improve the quality of medical and dental education and training in the country.
“This first public sector medical and dental college of Islamabad will offer education and training of international standards to its students. It will have a wide range of disciplines with a great emphasis on great practical exposure of the students,” he said.
Professor Dr Mehmood said all necessary arrangements had been made for the start of classes that was slated for early next year.
THE latest developments on the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) and the Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline projects are such that it may shape into an either-or situation.
While work on the IP pipeline is expected to be completed ahead of schedule, the United States-backed TAPI project has also been expedited. Pipeline politics appear to have come into play. At the moment, the US is in favour of TAPI, Russia and China for IP, India is in a ‘wait and see’ mode and Pakistan seems to be running with the hare and hunting with the hounds.
Pakistan and Turkmenistan recently reached a deal on a gas sale-purchase price for the $7.6bn TAPI pipeline project, scheduled to be completed by 2016. Under the deal, Turkmenistan will deliver 1.3 billion cubic feet a day of gas at 69 per cent of the crude oil parity price, which is much lower than the gas rate of 78 per cent of crude price Islamabad agreed to with Tehran under the IP gas pipeline deal.
The deal on the TAPI pipeline has come at a time when Tehran and Islamabad have expedited efforts to execute the IP gas pipeline, a project that is strongly opposed by the United States. Pakistan has begun to dither on the IP project as Washington stiffens its opposition, pushing Islamabad to accept TAPI as an alternative to the gas pipeline from Iran.
Last year, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India initialled the Gas Pipeline Framework Agreement in Ashgabat. The
proposed 1680km TAPI pipeline will start from Daulatabad field in Turkmenistan and end at Fazilka settlement at the border of India and Pakistan. The pipeline will have to pass through war-torn Afghanistan as well as insurgency-hit Balochistan in Pakistan. Security in the volatile Afghanistan has been the key issue related to the execution of the TAPI project.
Under the IP deal, Iran will deliver about 750 million cubic feet of gas per day to Pakistan by the end of 2014. After India’s withdrawal from the project in 2009, Iran and Pakistan decided to implement the project bilaterally. The IP project is pressing ahead of schedule despite the American opposition.
Federal Minister for Petroleum Dr Asim Hussain recently said that a breakthrough in the project depends on an “understanding” with the international community. Some analysts even claim that during Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to Pakistan last month, Washington and Islamabad reached a deal due to which Islamabad is dithering on the IP gas pipeline project.
Pakistan is dithering at a time when all issues relating to the IP project between Islamabad and Tehran have been settled, including gas sale and purchase agreement (GSPA) and third-party certification for the uninterrupted supply of gas from the source field to Pakistan for 30 years.
The price difference of nine per cent between Turkman and Iran gas not only provides an opportunity to Pakistan to renegotiate price with Iran but also opens a window for the country to abandon the IP agreement without paying penalties in case UN sanctions are imposed on Tehran.
Washington’s advice to shelve the IP pipeline project is hardly sound. How can Pakistan go back on the Iran deal when it faces chronic gas shortages itself and its own proven gas reserves are known to be dwindling? It would be folly to walk away from the IP project for an insecure and uncertain TAPI project.
Pakistan is, however, expected to go ahead with the IP project despite US opposition if China joins the project. China is not only interested in initially investing $2.5bn in the Pakistani part of the project but also in a gas pipeline extension to its territory. Around 1,100km of the IP pipeline will be built in Iran, while the remaining 1,000km will be set up in Pakistan. Last year, secretary of the Ministry of Petroleum, Kamran Lashari, disclosed that Pakistan is in negotiations with China for the availability of technical equipment for laying the IP pipeline.
Russia has been opposed to the TAPI project and backing the IP project. Russian gas giant Gazprom has also shown an interest in participating in the IP pipeline project. It was Gazprom that first proposed the project of building an underwater gas pipeline from Iran to India in 1997. Under the proposal, a gas pipeline would pass overland in Iran and India and underwater in its Pakistani section.
Moscow wants Turkmenistan’s gas to be firmly under its control and it has done everything it could to frustrate the TAPI pipeline project. Gazprom is said to have helped facilitate an abortive coup against the late president Niyazov (who had been very active in making the TAPI project a reality) in 2002.
India has reportedly shown interest in rejoining the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline project despite American opposition. India’s renewed interest in the IP project is a move to keep China away from the project, as after India’s withdrawal Beijing showed an interest in building an Iran-Pakistan-China (IPC) pipeline that provides it a chance of obtaining a secure overland gas pipeline. New Delhi, which is locked in an energy game with Beijing, is not willing to give China a chance to replace it in the IPI project.
The expected Chinese participation in the IP project would create a new overland energy link that could complement China’s energy diversification strategy, even though the project would face several political and logistical difficulties as the pipeline has to traverse the very difficult terrain of Gilgit-Baltistan and the restive Balochistan province.
The writer is a development analyst and has written a number of books including The Economic Development of Balochistan and can be reached at email@example.com
ISLAMABAD — Pakistan has 1,339.25 tonnes of gold reserves situated in Baluchistan province alone with 63.50 tonnes at Saindak and 1275.75 tonnes at Reko Diq, official sources said here yesterday. These two major gold reserves are situated in district Chaghai of the province.
The sources further said the Saindak Copper-Gold Project, Baluchistan is the only project in the country, which is producing gold/silver as a by-product in a normal quantity. The gold production was 7.891 tonnes and silver 11.293 tonnes during five years from 2005 to 2009.
Occurrence and showing of gold and silver had been reported from various parts of the country, including Baluchistan, Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. However, reserves of these occurrences had not been confirmed except in Saindak and Reko Diq.
In 2006, the production of gold was 1.410 tonnes, while silver was 2.403 tonnes, in 2007 gold was 1.576 tonnes and silver 2.136 tonnes, in 2008 gold was 1.542 tonnes and silver 2.088 tonnes, while in 2009, the gold production was 1.592 tonnes and silver 2.157 tonnes.
Pakistan also has rich copper resources, and according to estimates there are about 4.805 billion tonnes copper reserves of which majority are in Baluchistan and some nominal quantity in Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) and Gilgit-Baltistan.
Baluchistan’s copper reserves consists of Saindak with 412 million tonnes, Reko Diq 3.720 billion tonnes, Dhasht-e-Kain 200 million tonnes, Ziarat Pir Suyltan 200 million tonnes, Kabul Koh 50 million tonnes, Missi 100 million tonnes and Bandegan 0.032 million tonnes.
About 123 million tonnes of copper reserves in FATA areas Boya, Shinkiari-North Waziristan have been found, the sources added. In Gilgit-Baltistan (Bulashgah, Gilgit) 0.5 million tonnes of copper reserves were discovered.
Officials in the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources said that feasibility studies have been conducted for copper-gold projects at Saindak and Reko Diq in the year 1988 and 2010, respectively. The Saindak project is in production since 2003.
Reko Diq deposit is in development phase and government of Baluchistan as regulator is processing application for conversion of exploration licence into long-term lease. At present, the officials said two foreign companies are working for the copper-gold deposits, MCC of China on Saindak Project and Tethyan Copper Company, joint venture of government of Baluchistan 25 per cent, Antofagasta-Chile 37.5 per cent and Barrick Gold-Canada 37.5 per cent on Reko Diq project.
The officials further said Saindak Copper Gold project is the only productive unit in the country. The government of Baluchistan receives royalty at the rate of five per cent of sale proceeds and 60 per cent share from Saindak Metals Limited/government of Pakistan.
Based on current production level, the annual revenue of the province from this project is estimated at Rs 1.300 billion. As per feasibility study, the life of mine of Reko Diq project is 56 years and estimated annual revenue of government of Baluchistan during the above period is $110.8 million, the officials maintained.
Private sector said that the geologists have estimated that Reko Diq contains mineral deposits worth $500 billion and if the authorities did not take action immediately, this golden opportunity of turning around Pakistan’s fate will be lost. — Internews
Gilgit (ET): The historical boundary dispute between Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa is not all water under the bridge. Following a claim made by K-P over eight kilometres of land at the Diamer-Bhasha Dam site, lawmakers in G-B are set to give a ‘befitting’ reply over, what they claim, is their land, sources said on Wednesday.
Speaker of the G-B assembly Wazir Baig had constituted a committee comprising lawmakers from Diamer Valley to ‘look into’ K-P’s claim and present a report to the house.
“The committee has done its homework and is set to give a befitting reply to K-P in the next assembly meeting,” a source privy to the development told The Express Tribune. He added that assembly members of the committee discussed “ways and means to thwart” K-P’s claim over some eight kilometres of the Diamer-Bhasha Dam – a project which caused the displacement of approximately 22,000 people in 30 villages.
In the last assembly proceedings, the G-B assembly members had rejected K-P’s claim over part of the structure and decided to inform the federal government about the ‘encroachment’ through ‘proper channels’.
Mega project leads to inevitable power struggle?
The dam is being built on River Indus, about 300 kilometres upstream of Tarbela Dam and about 40 kilometres downstream of Chilas Town, the headquarters of Diamer District in G-B.
With a storage capacity of about eight million acre feet (MAF) and projected electricity generation of 4,500mws, Diamer-Bhasha dam will top both Tarbela and Mangla dams, whose storage capacities have fallen drastically due to silting over the years.
According to experts, the dam is expected to be completed in eight years and will cost over $12 billion.
The boundary dispute between the two regions dates back to two decades ago after Shandur – the highest polo ground located between Gilgit and Chitral – became the focus of attention as thousands of tourists descended upon it to witness traditional polo played between K-P and G-B.
The otherwise neglected Shandur saw the presence of the K-P police organising the event, leading to resistance from G-B. People in Gilgit believe that the federal government continues to look on as K-P “encroaches upon G-B territory”.
Existing tensions the two northern areas has increased due to the controversies of the Diamer-Bhasha dam and the Shandur polo ground, with both sides claiming rights to the land.
In view of growing tensions, the federal government formed a committee last year to bring about a ‘patch up’ between the two regions.
Two years since the committee was formed, the Shandur case remains unsolved. The situation turned grave last year after the Gilgit polo team went against a seven-decade-old traditional sport of polo and decided to withdraw from playing with Chitral.
Last Friday in Islamabad, the Federal Minister for Finance & Economic Affairs, Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, presided over a meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) which, among other things, approved two hydel power projects in the heavenly regions of Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu & Kashmir. The same day in Karachi, President Zardari was given a briefing on wind power projects by the Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB) and other concerned departments, and he was informed that three projects would start producing 50 megawatts each within a year.
The President is reported to have said that Pakistan needs to tap all available sources of energy including solar. For a government whose energy policy has almost exclusively focussed on setting up numerous Rental Power Projects (RPP) that produce dirty and expensive electricity from oil and gas, what do these tokens signify? Not much.
It would have been so much better if the government had discovered its love for cheaper and renewable energy a bit earlier in the day, when it took over more than three years ago to be precise. That could have saved us from the prohibitive and unabated escalation in power tarriffs and the unacceptable environmental costs that the outdated RPPs have brought with them. In the coming elections, the government would have had more to show to the electorate and the businesses and industries, that have suffered from the consequences of its indefensible energy policy in terms of excessive loadshedding and constantly rising power rates. The above mentioned projects, and other similar initiatives, announced with a flurry after the government’s dirty RPP-centric policy became indefensible and the stink of corruption emanating from it became too strong, are useless second thoughts. At best, they will serve as electioneering slogans for the PPP, thrown at us as the government’s achievements-in-the-making.
Somehow it sounds strange that now, when the government’s tenure is drawing to a close, at the Karachi briefing the President asked for periodic reports to be submitted to the presidency indicating the progress made and the bottlenecks encountered by the wind power projects, most of them yet to be launched. His enthusiasm for alternative energy sources would have been more credible if it had come when his remote-controlled government was pushing the RPPs as if there were no alternatives and no tomorrow. Had the hydel and alternative energy projects benefitted from the speed with which the dirty RPPs were approved and given unwarranted advance payments according to contracts that seemed to have been customised to maximise their profits, things would have been very different on the energy front. After all, the technology for wind power was not invented yesterday and it was available when RPPs were being prescribed as the only possible solution to our energy woes. The AEDB was also around when the government assumed office and started preaching the virtues of RPPs.
The point is not that the government should not talk about it now because it didn’t talk about it then: It is never too late to start moving in the right direction. The point is that the government is still not moving in the right direction and its tokenism regarding cheaper and renewable energy sources is insufficient and insincere. Otherwise, instead of announcing this or that small-time project and sounding gung-ho about renewable energy, the government would be unveiling a comprehensive policy based on its newfound love for alternative energy sources, a policy that is not completely preoccuppied by the number of megawatts added to the power generation capacity but also addresses issues of sustainability, conservation, costs, distribution and a host of other issues that must be tackled to overcome the energy crisis faced by us. After all it would take more than a few high-tech windmills and a couple of environmentally unsound hydel projects to realise a Green Pakistan, a country that puts the needs of its citizens before the profits of multi-national energy industry that is only too happy to dump its dirty and discarded inefficient power generation plants here.
The ADB-funded Shagarthang project in Skardu District is estimated to cost Rs 4.8 billion and will produce 26 megawatts of electricity. The 48-megawatt Jagran-II project in District Neelum, AJ&K will be built with a French loan and is expected to cost Rs 6.5 billion. The cost estimates in both the cases are revised, and further revision of these costs are not unlikely. Did the government evaluate the cost-benefit of these projects or did it decide in their favour simply because the ADB and the French government had shown their willingness to fund them? Could they be built cheaper? At a better site? Do we have better projects planned that have been shelved because the usual funding sources do not favour them? Will they be environmentally and technically sound? Or will they be like the USAID-funded Sadpara dam near Skardu that, for 18 megawatts of energy, has transformed a beautiful and priceless natural treasure to look like a battlezone and turned it into a monstrous threat for the inhabitants of Skardu city? Were there no cheaper and environmentally sound ways of meeting the energy needs of the people there?
In fact, there are better and cleaner ways of meeting the energy needs of our people but you have to put them before kickbacks, foreign funding, and profits of power generation companies and construction contractors. Most of the communities living in Pakistan are blessed with natural and renewable sources of energy, but enabling them to benefit from these God-gifted resources might not be so profitable to the crippling web of international finance, the greedy global economy and their partners in our government who make policies and approve plans tailor-made for their unethical profiteering. There are no indications that this debilitating partnership has broken and the government has a new vision for meeting our energy needs. Approving a plan here and a plan there and making noises about cheaper and renewable energy do not signify a change of heart and these useless tokens mean nothing.
The writer is an independent columnist and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Rawalpindi (Dawn): THE acceptance of Pakistan’s claim that the Indian Kishanganga Hydroelectric Project (KHEP) would obstruct the flow of water of the Neelum River in Pakistan-administered Kashmir by the International Court of Arbitration (ICA) has not been digested by the Indian water strategists. The ground-breaking ceremony of Diamer-Bhasha dam (DBD) in the Gilgit-Baltistan provided an ideal opportunity to settle their score. The reason for objecting to Diamer-Bhasha dam is a stale argument that the project is located in disputed territory and can cause floods in Indian-occupied Kashmir.
This politically-driven defence by Indian water authorities is totally unjust because Pakistan seems to be slipping into a category of a country the United Nations defines as ‘water scarce’. With the population rapidly expanding, water is running out very quickly.
Estimates suggest that while Pakistan has only achieved 11 per cent storage capacity, India on its allocated eastern rivers has accomplished 52 per cent.
In order to help resolve the acute power shortage in the coming years, Pakistan’s ‘Water Vision-2016’ envisaged the need to built Diamer-Bhasha dam first on a priority basis was a welcome move. The country has an energy deficit of approximately 5,000 MW — only producing around two-thirds of its energy requirements.
The Diamer-Bhasha dam would have an installed capacity of 4,500 MW, with a total cost estimated at $12.6 billion and a storage capacity of 7.3 MAF. The dam would ensure food and water security, besides extending life of the Tarbela Dam by 35 years and would help control flood damage to the country.
The Indian external strike against Pakistan is not restricted to just objecting to the project, rather it has an all-round and all-encompassing strategy to destabilise Pakistan. India is also exploiting the boundary dispute between Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa vis-à-vis royalty issue. This caused a delay of almost four years.
However, the issue of royalty earned from the hydroelectric power generation at the dam between the two provinces will be resolved. Likewise, the issue of resettlement of 28,650 affected people has been settled.
For Pakistan, the Diamer-Bhasha dam is the lifeline for its tottering economy. The outfit may not be a panacea for all the economic woes, but it could be a very critical link in Pakistan’s energy and water requirements. Therefore, Pakistan needs to push the World Bank to adhere to its own policies and not be influenced by Indian hectoring or complaints.