Dasu project takes off


IT IS, indeed, a historic moment as, after a long gap, practical work has begun for construction of a vital hydro-electric project, the completion of which would add 4,320 MW of cheaper electricity to the national grid. The Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) really deserves credit for achieving another milestone in the construction of Dasu hydropower project by signing a Rs.52.5 billion contract with a joint venture of General Electric-Hydro China and Power China Zhongnan Engineering Corporation for electro-mechanical works of the project.
There is no doubt that the country has achieved a break even stage in electricity generation due to completion of a number of projects under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) bringing an end to ignominious era of load-shedding but woes of the electricity consumers would continue as long as the objective of provision of low-cost electricity is realized. This is possible by increasing the share of hydel generation in the overall energy mix of the country and, therefore, practical measures aimed at achieving this objective are appreciable. According to a report of WAPDA, Pakistan has the potential of 100,000MW of hydro-power with identified sites of 59,000MW. The country is blessed with ample water resources, but could store only 13% of the annual flow of its rivers and this capacity too is threatened due to fast depletion caused by sedimentation. Increase in water storage capacity as well as share of hydel power in the overall energy mix is crucial for socio-economic development of the country. It is regrettable that we politicized some of the important projects while work on others could not be initiated due to lack of vision and will or paucity of financial resources. It is encouraging that the situation is changing for the better ever since retired Lt Gen Muzammil Hussain assumed chairmanship of WAPDA as he is taking keen interest in achieving otherwise dead targets for water storage and electricity generation. The Chairman has a clear thinking as he strongly believes there has to be a home-grown engineering expertise coupled with innovative financial models with less dependence on the government and efficient yet swift planning and approval processes for implementation of projects. There are plans to add two MAF to water storage capacity and 828 megawatt (MW) hydropower generation capacity up to 2025 in short term, another eight MAF water storage and 5653 MW power generation up to 2030 in medium term and 28 MAF water storage and 6245 MW generation capacity up to 2050 in long term with completion of its various projects. It was because of his keen interest that contract for Mohmand Dam Hydropower Project has been awarded, hurdles being removed in the way of construction of Diamer-Bhasha dam and now a major contract of the Dasu project has been signed. The targets can be realized in an accelerated manner provided there is will and determination at the political level to arrange funding for hydro-electric projects and removal of administrative and legal hiccups.

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