MUZAFFARABAD: Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif inaugurated the 102MW Gulpur hydropower project on Poonch river in Pakistan administered Kashmir’s Kotli district on Thursday, reported Radio Pakistan.
The hydropower plant project is expected to be completed in four years at a cost of US $320 million.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, Nawaz said the government plans to build a host of small and big hydropower projects to address the issue of electricity shortage.
Nawaz invited foreign investors to invest in the mega projects of Diamer, Basha and Dasu dams “which will add about 9,000MW of electricity to the national grid.”
He pointed out that there is potential of generating 500MW power on Poonch river which will be fully exploited.
He said the 969MW Neelum Jhelum project is nearing completion and the government is interested in privatising it after its commissioning.
The prime minister reiterated commitment to address the issue of power shortage by the end of 2017. He said power shortages have already considerably been reduced from 12 to six hours. These will continue to decline in the years to come, he said.
He said the government is laying more emphasis to producing electricity at cheaper rates. For this purpose, he said, hydroelectric, LNG and coal projects are being established.
Nawaz said the Thar coal mine is also being explored to meet the future energy requirements of the country.
About China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, the prime minister said the work on the project has been fast tracked.
Addressing the ceremony, Prime Minister PaK Chaudhary Abdul Majeed appreciated the goverment’s steps towards addressing the electricity shortage in the region.
He also lauded the prime minister for strongly raising the Kashmir issue at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly.
The government signed an implementation agreement with a South Korean consortium to set up the 102MW Gulpur hydropower project in September 2013.
The project, developed by Mira Power Limited, is a subsidiary of Korea South East Power Company (KOSEP) of South Korea.
Korean investors will inject up to twenty five percent funds in the project while the remaining will be provided by different banks.
The International Finance Corporation (IFC) earlier in June 2015 announced an investment of $50 million for Gulpur hydropower project and mobilising a further $72m for the project to address Pakistan’s power shortage, support lower cost energy generation, and help develop renewable energy sources, Dawn newspaper reported.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is already supporting the project in line with the country partnership strategy for Pakistan.
The project involves construction and operation of a run-of-the-river hydroelectric power generation facility on Poonch River, some 28km upstream from Mangla, the country’s second largest water storage reservoir.
It will generate electricity by using indigenous water resources, and the tariff for electricity supplied by the project will be lower.
The project will also avoid greenhouse gas emissions of almost 240,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.