GREAT OPPORTUNITIES FOR RAISING HIGH DAMS AZAD KASHMIR OFFERS VIOLENCE & L/O FREE ENVIRONMENT

AMANULLAH BASHAR
Apr 06 - 12, 2009

Sardar Yaqub Khan, the Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir has offered great opportunities for potential investors to develop high dams on various available locations which have the potential to generate at least 10,000 mw of hydro electricity sufficient to cater to power needs of the country as produce surplus power to export in the region.

During his recent visit to Karachi Prime Minister Azad Kashmir told this correspondent that today the Azad Kashmir is the most peaceful place which gives a sense of security and freedom for investment in a variety of investment opportunities. He specially invited the trade and business community from Karachi to capitalize on the available opportunities for construction of dams in Azad Kashmir which having potential of generating at least 10,000mw of electricity from dams the cheapest source of power production.

He said that the federal government has already released a considerable amount of Rs30 billion for infrastructure development which would be an added attraction for the investors.

It may be mentioned that at present Pakistan is facing a shortfall of 4000mw of power and trying to attract investors and IPPs in thermal power generation, however the natural resources available in Kashmir for development of small and high dams can be a driving force for economic activities in Azad Kashmir as well as other parts of the country.

It may be mentioned that private power producers are eyeing for expansion in power generating capacity to tap a huge electricity market available in view of the massive power shortfall.

The private sector is encouraged for expansion following the recently formed banking consortium comprised of 10 commercial banks which has given a nod for accepting Rs81 billion WAPDA's TFCs.

The TFCs scheme is a major step towards solution of the stuck up inter corporate debt to the tune of Rs180 billion causing liquidity crunch for private power producers as well as the oil marketing companies especially the PSO. With the settlement of the dues issues, it will be reassuring to the IPPs for expansion in generating capacity in the face of massive power.

It is interesting to note that in view of the massive power shortfall the IPPs are eyeing expansion options, with Hubco having announced two expansions (225MW thermal and 84MW hydro plants) while Kapco is considering a 450MW thermal expansion.

Pakistan, in fact is in dire need of more dams not only to meet its power shortfall but also to provide a dependent back for water supplies for irrigation purposes.

All indications are that agricultural growth will be reasonably good during FY09, despite the drag from 18.5 percent decline in sugarcane output during kharif FY09. This assessment is based on an anticipated record wheat harvest (that would significantly improve the contribution by major crops), above target performance of minor crops and a reasonably good outturn by the livestock sub-sector.

Although there are strong indications that agricultural growth will be reasonably good during Financial Year 2009, despite the drag from 18.5 percent decline in sugarcane output during kharif yet for capitalization on the available potential a well defined water management and sustainable supply is imperative. The wheat harvest would also likely to significantly improve the contribution by major crops this year, above target performance of minor crops and a reasonably good outturn by the livestock sub-sector.

The improvement in the crops sub-sector appears to be helped by the significant gains to farmers in the previous cropping season amidst high commodity prices, as well as supportive government policies. The price signals were so clear in FY09 that farmers worked hard and invested to offset the impact of water shortages and non-availability of urea at controlled prices. These efforts were also supported by favorable weather conditions. This was particularly true for the rabi crops, which were helped by timely winter rains. Consequently, despite lower estimated water availability and urea shortages, the improvement in the performance of crops sub-sector during FY09 is remarkable. A decline in urea off-take also led to deceleration in agri-credit disbursement during Jul-Jan 2008-09.

Consequently, despite lower estimated water availability and urea shortages, the improvement in the performance of crops sub-sector during FY09 is remarkable. A decline in urea off-take also led to deceleration in agri-credit disbursement during Jul-Jan FY09.

CONCLUSION

The government has already expanded the operations of the commercial banks to ensure easy access of the farmers to the agriculture credit which is helping to produce better results, the rich agriculture lands have the potential to serve the food interest as well as cater to the requirement of the agro-based industries, the only thing required is the sustainable water supply for irrigation purposes as well as uninterrupted power supplies to industries especially the agro based industries. To meet the two pronged market requirement it strongly believed that the available water potential if properly and intelligently put to good use, the agriculture sector can prove a driving force to the economy in Pakistan.