Strategic project to generate cheaper electricity


Aug 05 - 11, 2002

Cost per unit of electricity is a major consideration in Pakistan. The exorbitant electricity charges not only irritating the minds of the consumers but also forcing the government quarters to find out a solution to bring down the cost of electricity affordable for the industrial, commercial and domestic consumers.

The export oriented industries are describing cost per unit of electricity as one of the major irritants hampering growth of economic as well as social life standards due to its multiplier effects on general prices and escalating cost of production of the manufacturing sector in Pakistan.

The situation may become even more alarming for the industrial sector to compete in the international market beside facing the influx of the foreign products if the genie of the free trade comes out of the bottle of WTO in next two to three years.

The writing on the wall is too clear and far too far from being comfortable. The demand supply gap in the electrical power generation is negative and with the progress of time, this gap is projected to widen, not arithmetically but close to exponentially.

According to a leading industrial the electricity charges in Pakistan are much higher as compared to electricity price in Germany. Currently, the entire nation is paying the price of the folly of the previous governments they had committed by entering into power purchase agreements with the IPPs.

Though it is not so easy to mend, yet the policy makers are trying to contain the cost of power generation by focusing on the policy of power generation through Hydro power projects.

According to a research paper done by the University of Punjab, the most non-controversial mode of power generation in Pakistan shall always be the Hydel mode of power generation. Keeping in line with these guidelines, the government is focusing more attention on Hydro power projects.

Ghazi Barotha Hydro Power Project, which is well on its way to completion is being said to be the model for more Hydro power projects to be built in the years to come.

Though the project is delayed for over 2 years resulting in price escalation, however over 94.1 per cent physical work and 86.4 per cent of the overall civil work on Ghazi Barotha Hydropower Project is completed and the remaining work is progressing fast.

Once it starts working, it will provide the nation with a continuous peak power of 1450mw, 24 hours a day as long as the Indus continues to flow.

The construction work on the last phase of Ghazi Barotha costing $2077.03 million with 1,450mw capacity, the second largest in the country after Tarbela, is in full swing with over 200 foreign consultants and experts engaged in completing task by May 2004.

All contractor consultants and experts from Italy, Japan, China and Germany are working day and night to accomplish the task, and expressed satisfaction at the pace of progress.

The most outstanding feature of the project is that it will provide power peaking capacity throughout the year with full power generation during the months of May and June when there is reduced generation of power from Tarbela and Mangla as a result of low reservoir levels.

The original cost of the project was estimated at $2250.00 million, which has now been revised, in view of price level in April last at 2077.03 million.

The project is a major run of the river environmentally sustainable power project with 1450mw installed capacity designed to meet the acute shortage of peak power in the country.

The project will use the head available in the Indus river, between Tarbela Dam and its confluence with the Haro River, and will have three main features i.e. barrage, power channel and a power complex.

The barrage is located 7km downstream of Tarbela Dam which has been designed to re-regulate the daily discharge from Tarbela and divert water into the power channel, adding compensation water during the low flow seasons and excess during high flow season will be released downstream of the barrage.

There will be negligible impact on existing groundwater table or quality of water, adding on the other hand, the power channel under drainage system will help alleviate an existing water-logging problem in this part of the project.

For the re-settlement of the inhabitants, a detailed re-settlement action plan has been prepared in accordance with World Bank guidelines, and on the advice of the environmental panel of experts.

Wapda has constructed three re-settlement villages near Isa Feroze, Banda and Barotha to accommodate the genuine affectees and added that land for this purpose is being acquired at the market price as estimated by the land evaluation committee.

According to official version, only 110 scattered dwellings with 900 inhabitants will be locally displaced and need resettlement. However there are reports that a large number of dislocated dwellers are still claiming for the settlement. Informed source said that the government had acquired land in the province of Sindh for the settlement of the affected people, however the affected dwellers are reluctant to settle in the province of Sindh and are keen to live in their own province near Haripur Hazara.