Dr Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan
DESPITE regional enmity, ongoing stand-offs of India with various regional countries, phenomenal rise to international “protectionism” and last but not the least constant US policy of “containment China”, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has been reinvigorated. It is victory of “commercial diplomacy” over “invisible conspiracies”. It is “sway” of “development” over “sword” of “destruction” carrying by India and its western allies. According to latest statistics of CPEC Authority (July, 2020), Chinese investment in the country in different projects of the CPEC surpassed over $11 billion during 2020. The two countries signed projects worth of $11bn, including a $3.9bn hydroelectric dam and a $7.2bn railway upgradation. It is the second biggest amount of Chinese investment in a single year after 2015 which witnessed a total investment of over $12 billion.
On its part by pursuing a participatory development approach and public-private model of financing, the Board of Investment (BOI) has now decided to establish first ever 700 megawatts (MW) solar captive power plant to provide energy to the CPEC Special Economic Zones (SEZs) namely M3-Industrial City and Allama Iqbal Industrial City (AIIC). It has informed that the Chinese companies had proposed to establish a solar power plant for SEZs under CPEC. It is indeed a giant step to develop SEZs in the country which will be instrumental to accelerate industrialization and capacity building measures too. Faisalabad Industrial Estate Development & Management Company (FIEDMC), partner with Chinese companies in this power plant project, will ensure estimated power requirement for both SEZs. The estimated cost of solar plant is $630 million.
A tripartite memorandum of understanding (MoU) between state owned enterprises including Faisalabad Industrial Estate Development & Management Company (FIEDMC), Power China Jiangxi Electric Power Construction Co Ltd (JEPCC) a subsidiary of Power China and Henan Zhonghui Electric Power Engineering & Consulting Co Ltd (HZEPEC) has now been signed. It will be completed in three phases as per the electricity demand of the SEZs. It would provide the estimated power requirement for both the SEZs, along with the status of infrastructure inside and outside the SEZ for power distribution from FIEDMC. It is based on the financial model of BOLT (build-own-lease-transfer) cooperation for the project which is a first ever BOLT model in Pakistan. It would be a first giant step towards further development of SEZs to have their own captive power plants for uninterruptible, affordable and sustainable power supply.
Most recently, a meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was also held under the Chairmanship of Sher Ali Arbab, MNA during which briefing about various power projects under CPEC was given. According to briefing there were 14 power generation projects which were categorized as prioritized projects with 10414 MW generation capacity and 7 projects were categorized as Activity Promoted with the power generation capacity of 6645 MW. Furthermore, currently, there are 20 power projects of 13048 MW at different stages of implementation; out of which 9 projects stand commissioned with a capacity of 5320 MW. 6 projects are under construction with a generation capacity of 4484 MW. Five projects are under LOI/LOS stage with a capacity of 3244 MW. Moreover, in the current CPEC portfolio, there are nine coal-based power projects of 8220 MW. Out of which 4 are imported coal-based projects of 4260 MW whereas 5 are Thar Coal based projects of 3690 MW. Four CPEC power projects based on coal have been commissioned.
Western propaganda achieved nothing but devastation to their fabricated narratives and strategic defeat to defame the CPEC as a mega project of exploitation or imperialism. On the contrary, there are more than 90pc local people have been employed in the various ongoing project in Gwadar port and Gwadar Eastbay Expressway employed 280 and 697 locals respectively. It brings the employment of people rate to 94% and 98% for the projects, contrary to false claims and propaganda surrounding local employment in the regional as well as international media outlets. Moreover, over 100,000 square meters of green land in the Gwadar port area has been built for green Gwadar construction. Time and again both the countries show their resolve to complete all the projects of the CPEC on times. In this context, the China Gezhouba Group Corporation (CGGC) sent a third batch of technicians comprising of 215 from China to resume work on various projects under CPEC. Upon completion of quarantine, workers will be sent to CPEC projects including Dasu Hydropower Project, Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Station, Suki Kinari Hydroelectric Project and Mohmand hydroelectric project.
One of the key mega projects under the CPEC framework for further enhancing of regional connectivity, digitalization and ICT has been operationalized. The CPEC fibre optic project will serve as the foundation for the digital revolution in Pakistan and will strengthen bilateral ties between China and Pakistan Khunjerab and Rawalpindi serve as the terminals of the 820 Km long fibre optic. With 467 Km, Gilgit Baltistan has the biggest share of the fibre optic followed by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with 288 Km, providing a much needed digital penetration in the two regions.
It is the lesson of modern civilization that “human survival” can be protected with diplomacy, dialogue and development in which economics plays very important role. Commercial diplomacy, participatory development, sustainability of the macro-economy and political system are real “guarantors” of peace and harmony in the world especially in the South East Asia. Thus ill intentions and sabotage activities of India against the CPEC will achieve nothing but only “regret”. Undoubtedly, CPEC stands for “regional connectivity” and does not have any “conspiracy”. It stands for pure “development” and does not have any invisible plan of destruction. It upholds the spirits of “harmony” and does not have horrendous schemes. CPEC has become the main “source” of new power generation in the country which is constantly spreading lights of hope, socio-economic prosperity and industrialization. CPEC has become “rainbow” of energy which comprises development of coal, wind, solar, furnace and hydro energy projects in the country. CPEC is “beacon” of hope against poverty, hunger, recession, inertia and hegemony.