The Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry president Mian Anjum Nisar on Wednesday welcomed the Pakistan-China agreement for construction of Azad Pattan Hydel Power Project of 700MW of electricity, as part of the CPEC, suggesting the government to also include more hydropower projects in its plan, as the country cannot afford to rely on costly and anti-environment fossil fuels.
“FPCCI is hopeful that the project, located on River Jhelum, will be completed within its time frame in 2026 and will not be delayed like several other hydro power projects in the country,” he stated.
It’s a good news for the public in general and business community in particular, as the new project would enable the country to move towards cheaper and greener power, inviting investment of $1.5 billion besides generating local job opportunities, he added.
Mian Anjum Nisar emphasized the importance of dams, stating that over 20 million acres of barren land can be brought under cultivation if the water is made available by developing water storages in the country. He said that with construction of dams, the country can strengthen its agriculture to attain food security and cope with the fast growing needs of water in domestic and industrial sectors besides injecting sizeable low-cost hydroelectricity into the national grid to stabilize the national economy
He endorsed the government future plan in this regard, as a summary is being moved by the Power Division to the Economic Coordination Committee for the approval of Kohala Hydropower Project, and Azad Pattan Hydropower Project as well as Mahl Hydropower project, all on Jhelum River, which would prove to be a milestone in the country’s development and prosperity.
He also called for speedy work of other power projects including Shargthang, Hanzal, Chilas, Naltar and Hassanabad Hunza, besides early construction of Kalabagh Dam which is the most suitable project for the national economy as it would produce cheap and sufficient electricity.
FPCCI President, referring to the factors behind the current scenario of water and hydropower sectors in the country, observed that the situation can be improved by putting a robust development mechanism in place and exercising prompt decision making. All stakeholders including the business community are ready to play their due role to implement the National Water Policy for water, food and energy security of the country, he said.
He said that Kalabagh dam should not be ignored at any cost, as water scarcity is heading towards the point of no return. Those opposing the Kalabagh Dam are unaware of the ground realities,” he said and added how can a mega water project be harmful for an agrarian country?
He said that one million acre feet of water gives benefit valued at $2 billion annually to the economy, while Pakistan is throwing away 35 million acre feet of water by delaying construction of the dam. This means that we are wasting $70 billion a year, which is almost equal to the country’s external debt, he added.
He maintained that hydropower is the most advanced and mature renewable energy technology and provides some level of electricity generation in more than 160 countries worldwide including. Moreover, hydropower is an attractive renewable option given the low-cost of electricity it produces, low greenhouse gas emissions and the flexibility it provide to the grid.
He observed that Indus River System Authority (IRSA) has constantly been issuing warning to the government on water scarcity and urged that all the allocations of PSDP should be spent only on enhancing water storage capacity. He said that Pakistan has to develop mega and small dams to store water if it wants to avert water crisis in the coming years.
FPCCI appreciates that despite prevailing situation of COVID-19 in the country, the mega project of China Pakistan Economic Corridor are being moved forward with full force and hope that more projects under CPEC would be signed in future.
We fully support the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan, according to which the country is going to move forward to produce clean and cheaper electricity instead of utilizing the expensive imported fuel. He said under the vision of the prime minister, the new projects would bring billions of dollars of foreign investment instead of putting burden of loans on the poor nation.