skardu

Gilgit-Baltistan:Progress on Projects of GB Reviewed

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ISLAMABAD (D.Times): A high-level meeting under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani was informed here on Wednesday that connectivity of Skardu and Gilgit with the national grid would be completed with an estimated foreign funding of $100 million from the French Agency for Development.

Some 108 projects in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) with 137 megawatts (MW) generation capacity would be completed by 2016 with an estimated cost of Rs 137 billion.

Meeting was held at the PM’s House to review the progress on hydel power projects in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and GB with a view to accelerate the process of the completion of projects to meet the energy requirements of the people.

Gilani directed that the action plan should be implemented by the relevant ministries adding that the projects below the capacity of 50 MW should be completed on top priority basis.

Gilani directed the Ministry of Water and Power secretary to get Skardu and Gilgit connected with the national grid, which would smoothen the supply of electricity to a great deal.

Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) Chairman Shakil Durrani apprised the meeting that the connectivity of Skardu and Gilgit with the national grid would be completed with an estimated foreign funding of $100 million from the French Agency for Development.

GB chief secretary said that there were 108 projects in GB with 137 MW generation capacity and they would be completed by 2016 with an estimated cost of Rs 137 billion. The Kashmir Affairs and GB Secretary stated during his presentation that there were seven ongoing projects in AJK, which would produce 11 MW of electricity and the projects would be completed by the end of this year.

He further said that the federal Public Sector Development Programme included three projects of hydel power generation which would be completed with an estimated cost of Rs 9.9 billion by 2016 and produce 55 MW of power.

The secretary further pointed out that the private sector has taken up two power projects, at Bong, Mirpur and Pathrand, Muzaffarabad, which would produce 231 MW of electricity.

He further pointed out that there was a very encouraging response from the investors on seven projects and the government was proactively undertaking the projects at the earliest.

Earlier, in his opening statement, Minister for Kashmir Affairs and GB Mian Manzoor Ahmad Wattoo congratulated the prime minister and his leadership on the unanimous passage of the 20th Constitutional Amendment Bill 2012, which would have positive effects on the democratic dispensation of the country. The unanimous enactment of the amendment had indeed raised the status of the politicians in the real sense, he said.

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Minister for Water and Power Naveed Qamar, minister for Kashmir Affairs and GB, GB Chief Minister Mehdi Shah, Ministry of Water and Power secretary, EAD secretary, Kashmir Affairs and GB secretary, GB chief secretary, WAPDA chairman and other senior officials were also present in the meeting.

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Gilgit-Baltistan: Hydel Projects of AJK and GB Reviewed By PM

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ISLAMABAD (APP): A high level meeting under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani on Wednesday reviewed progress on hydel power projects in Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan with a view to accelerate their process of completion to meet energy requirements of the people. During the meeting held at Prime Minister House, the Prime Minister directed that the action plan should be implemented by the relevant ministries, adding that the projects below the capacity of 50 MW should be completed on top priority.

The Prime Minister directed Secretary, Ministry of Water and Power to get Skardu and Gilgit connected with the national grid, which would smoothen the supply of electricity to a great deal.
Chairman WAPDA Shakil Durrani apprised the meeting that the connectivity of Skardu and Gilgit with the National Grid would be completed with an estimated foreign funding of $ 100 million from the French Agency for Development.
Chief Secretary Gilgit-Baltistan said that there were 108 projects in Gilgit with 137 MW generation capacity and their completion would be effected by 2016 with an estimated cost of Rs 137 billion.
The Secretary Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit Baltistan stated during his presentation that there were seven ongoing projects in AJK which would produce 11 MW of electricity and the projects would be completed by the end of this year.
He said that the Federal Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) included three projects of hydel power generation which would be completed with an estimated cost of Rs 9.9 billion by 2016 and would produce 55 MW of power.
The Secretary further pointed out that the private sector has taken up two power projects, at Bong “Mirpur” and Pathrand (Muzaffarabad) which would produce 231 MW of electricity.
He further pointed out that there was very encouraging response from the investors on seven projects and the government was proactively undertaking the projects at the earliest.
Earlier, in his opening statement, Mian Manzoor Ahmad Wattoo, Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit Baltistan congratulated the Prime Minister and his leadership on the unanimous passage of the 20th constitutional amendment yesterday which would have positive effects on the democratic dispensation of the country.
The unanimous enactment of the amendment had indeed raised the status of the politicians in the real sense, he said.
Advisor to Prime Minister on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Minister for Water & Power Syed Naveed Qamar, Minister for Kashmir Affairs & GB Mian Manzoor Ahmed Wattoo, Chief Minister GB Syed Mehdi Shah, Secretary M/o Water & Power, Secretary EAD, Secretary Kashmir Affairs & GB, Chief Secretary GB, Chairman WAPDA and other senior officials were also present in the meeting.

Gilgit-Baltistan: Protests against Loadshedding across GB

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Gilgit (ET): In the freezing cold, thousands of people in the Ghizer valley took to the streets and blocked roads to protest against loadshedding that has practically brought life to a standstill across Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B).

In Chilas, Diamer district, where the Diamer-Bhasha Dam is under construction, people suffered a blackout after the power and water department suspended electricity to consumers to protest against an official’s maltreatment by the police.

Residents of Ishkoman, Yasin, Phunder, Gitch and Goharabad were provoked by prolonged power cuts since electricity is the only facility available for residents in the valley where temperature plummeted to -12 degrees Celsius this week. “We have no water, no heating arrangement in this freezing cold. The four to six hours of electricity that we get has also been suspended,” said a trader, Nassem. The power cut had left thousands of people in the dark.

Police had booked more than 40 people for damaging public property in Ghizer valley as protests continued throughout the week.

In Gilgit, the duration of loadshedding has exceeded 15 hours a day while the mercury continues to drop. The situation is worse in Skardu, Astore, and Hunza-Nagar.

Official sources said G-B is currently experiencing 132 megawatts (MW) power shortfall while the government is unable to provide electricity to at least 15 per cent of the population of the region so far. It is generally believed that the shortfall increases considerably in winters when consumption increases while production declines. However official sources said the shortfall experienced in Gilgit is about 23 MW while it is about 25 per cent in Skardu, the second major city of G-B.

According to official statistics, the total strength of consumers in all the seven districts of G-B is more than 150,77, while approximately 400 connections are daily issued to new consumers.

G-B Minister for Water and Power, Wazir Shakil, said on Sunday that about 120MW of electricity would be generated by 2015 in G-B, a region that is believed to have the capacity to produce more than 50,000 MW. “Hectic efforts are under way to streamline matters pertaining to water and power,” he said, adding that the government was faced with financial issues.

Gilgit-Baltistan: Providing Quality Education to the students of GB

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SKARDU (APP): The government of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) is providing quality education to the students of Gilgit Baltistan (GB), said Chairman Board of Governors schools and colleges Brig Muhammad Abdul Hafeez here on Friday.

Addressing the board meeting, he said: “Our main objective is to provide standard education to the students and all the teachers are performing their duties sincerely.”

He said the board would invite educationalist, politicians etc in schools and colleges of Skardu and Ghangche for delivering lectures to the students.

Gilgit-Baltistan: Floods and Rains damage Infrastructure in GB

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GILGIT:  Like other parts of the country the recent monsoon rains have done tremendous damages to roads and other private properties in Gilgit Baltistan region.  Landsliding and mudsliding, have blocked roads in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) at various places over the last couple of days.

According to official reports continuous rains triggered sliding on Karakoram Highway at several points as a result of which Gilgit to Chilas road was blocked at Tato.  Dasu and Pattan points of  KKH in Kohistan district were also affected badly which caused traffic problems for commutors on the highway.News of landslides have been reported from  other places of the region as well. Gilgit to Astore road was also blocked due to land sliding and Gilgit to Hunza road was also reported closed for traffic.

Gilgit to Ghizer and Skardu roads were opened for traffic, sources added.  Chipursan road whose condtion was bad even before the rains winessed further damages. The recent wave of rains has caused property loses but comparing to last year’s rains it did not cause any major untoward incident in the region. However, flights schedule of PIA was disturbed due to inclement weather conditions while buses and trucks remain stranded due to blockade of roads.

The abysmally low condition of KKH has resulted in increased hours of journey between Gilgit and Rawalpindi from 15 hours to more than 24 hours. Moreover, the road via Babusar top also requires the attention of concerned authorities as it too being not repaired despite the lapse of more than an year after floods in GB.

Courtesy: Staff Reporting/Pamir Times

Gilgit-Baltistan: On the top of world

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A cup of steaming cappuccino, the roar of the Shigar river, the fast breeze made by the gushing water, a huge walnut tree nearby, massive mountains on three sides and the lively company of friends – it reminds me of William Wordsworth eulogizing “a book of verses, a bottle of wine, a shady tree and you beside me” Wordsworth refused to desire anything else if he possessed all these blessings. And this is precisely what I go through while perched on top of the Shigar Fort, the Palace on the Rock, in high-up Baltistan.

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Huge Poplar and Cedar trees cover the lush-green Shigar valley at the bottom of huge mountains, offering a complete contrast to the topography of the region. Even the road from Skardu, the administrative headquarters of Baltistan, to Shigar stands out for the contrasting imagery: once across the Skardu river, you travel across a desert of white glittering sand which gradually disappears behind the craggy and curling mountains before descending into the Shigar valley. From a distance, the Shigar valley strikingly looks like a sprawling oasis, with the mighty Shigar river crisscrossing the vast riverbed to the right of the valley, which has a predominantly Shia Muslim population. (The people here recently voted Azam Khan into the Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly.) The valley offers a stunningly contrasting landscape – rocky barren cliffs, cultivated terraces, and orchards all around.

You travel across a desert of white glittering sand which gradually disappears behind the craggy and curling mountains

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The valley is practically the gateway to some of the highest mountains in the world, including K-2, Mashabrum 1 and 11, Broad Peak, and Tango Tower. It is also the staging post for the Baltoro mountain range, and used to be the most favoured destination for trekkers from all over the world.

The valley is practically the gateway to some of the highest mountains in the world

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If the Shigar Valley is the crown of the Karakorums, the Palace Residence is certainly its centre-piece. Also known as Fong-Khar, or the Palace on the Rock, the site has been restored by Aga Khan Cultural Service Pakistan (AKCSP-P). It is indeed a unique site in the middle of an oasis; a cultural heritage guesthouse where you experience a rugged 17th Century version of luxury, painstakingly restored to the original, though equipped with all the modern amenities and services of a good hotel.

The complex at Shigar comprises the 400-year-old Fort-Palace and two more recent buildings, the “Old House” and the “Garden House”. The former Palace of the Raja of Shigar has been transformed into a 20-room heritage guesthouse, with the grand audience hall serving as a museum of Balti culture and featuring select examples of fine wood-carvings, as well as other heritage objects.

While hosting guests, the Palace also offers a lot of Balti history and culture – a blend indeed of the old and the new.

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Azam Khan belongs to the Amacha Dynasty, which claims to have ruled the area for 33 generations. His ancestors brought artisans, carpenters and stone-carvers from Kashmir for the construction of the Shigar Fort-Palace, and that resulted in a combination of Kashmiri-influenced carvings and Balti architecture.

It is extraordinary to be so close to nature in its naked form, and to not have to think of the workaday stresses back home.

Almost two kilometres upwards of the Skardu valley lies the sleepy Khaplu town, ahead of the Kargil sector, where Indian and Pakistani forces fought their most recent battle over Kashmir in 1999.

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Khalpu, too, boasts another archaeological heritage: the Khaplu Palace and Residence, also restored by the Aga Khan Cultural Service Pakistan (AKCSP-P). This palace is from 1840 and belonged to the Raja of Khaplu and was raised after the Sikh Dogras conquered Baltistan and ordered all Rajas to build new residences. Located at a height of over 8,000 feet above sea level, the palace is now back to its past glory, restored with care and passion, with no cement used in the construction or restoration, which took almost six years. This palace also offers several cozy rooms, equipped with modern amenities such as internet, television, clean hot and cold water and round-the-clock electricity.

Azam Khan belongs to the Amacha Dynasty, which claims to have ruled the area for 33 generations

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The Northern Areas – both Gilgit and Baltistan – have many similarly precious archaeological heritage sites, though many are in a lamentably shambolic state. One wishes the government agencies responsible for our heritage would demonstrate the same spirit and commitment as the Aga Khan Cultural Service.

[box13]And now some good news: it is amazing to see the tourist traffic that places like Shigar and Khaplu can generate; the restoration or repair simply opens up the place to inquisitive outsiders. Not only does it become a source of business and employment – it becomes the engine of growth in far-flung places where people don’t even think of going.

So if you want a break from stressful city life, or are fed up with the rigorous daily grind of business in crowded city centers, why not check out Shigar and Khaplu for a picnic on top of the world?

The writer heads the independent Centre for Research and Security Studies, and author of the book “The Most Dangerous Place – Pakistan’s Lawless Frontier email: imtiaz@crss.pk