Pakistan needs a cost-effective solution

From KHALID BUTT , Lahore
 Oct 10 - 16, 2005

Pakistan Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) has doubled its efforts to further accelerate the pace of development work on water sector projects to cater to the rapid surge in water requirements due to the increase in population as well as depletion in capacity of water reservoirs as a result of silting.

Chairman WAPDA, Tariq Hamid has asked the water sector managers to work vigorously for anticipating and removing bottlenecks, which could otherwise hamper the pace of work on the projects. The completion of on-going projects within allocated funds and stipulated time frame should be the prime objective, he emphasized.

WAPDA officials told PAGE that the work on high-head hydropower projects including Khan and Allai Khawar projects, was in full swing. The 37 km long access road for Allai Khawar hydropower project from Tha Kot to Banna would be completed by November this year. Excavation work on two diversion tunnels as well as steel-lined power tunnel of Khan Khawar hydropower project was in progress. Besides, work order for Duber Khawar hydropower - the third of such projects - would soon be issued and physical work will be undertaken forthwith, it was further told.

The projects are being executed under National Water Resources and Hydropower Development - Vision 2025 Programme on fast track basis.

The projects including raising of the Mangla Dam, Gomal Zam, Mirani, Sabakzai, Satpara and Kurram Tangi dams, Rainee, Kachhi and Greater Thal canals, and Neelum-Jhelum, Jinnah, Golen Gol, Dasu as well as Sukki Kanari and Mahal hydropower projects were also discussed in detail recently. Drainage projects and the progress on general investigation schemes have also been evaluated.

WAPDA would be in a position to add 323 MW hydropower by spending Rs 23.695 billion on three High Head (HH) projects of Indus tributaries, to be ready by 2009.

Talking about those cites a highly placed WAPDA source said that Wapda has once again been brought back to its original task of water resources and hydropower development. With the program, the authority has finally embarked on a venture based on the fact that rivers are our most important national resource, particularly the Indus and its tributaries creating a colossal among stored energy (no less valuable than oil), which is secure, perpetual, environmentally clean and almost free. These projects are run-of-the-river type and water of three nullas (tributaries) is being diverted to River Indus through tunnels to generate power. Khan Khwar and Dubair Khwar projects are being executed by Chinese firm Sino Hydro and Allai Khwar by another Chinese company, which won the contracts through open bidding.

Briefing a group of reporters about 3 HH project sites, Khan Khwar, Allai Khwar, and Dubair Khwar hydropower projects, the General Manager Projects, Northern Area, Brig (Retd.), Zareen said that the electricity produced from those projects would be quite cheaper than that being produced form thermal power generation.

The power generation capacity of Allai Khwar power project is 121 MW, Khan Khwar 72 MW and Duber Khwar 130 MW. Khan Khwar project is located in Shangla District and is approximately 245 km from Islamabad and is located on the right bank tributary of River Indus, with the cost of Rs 5362.705 million.

Allai Khwar hydropower project is located in Battgram district, approximately 245 km from Islamabad. The height of the dam is 32.50 meters and length of the tunnel is 2366 meters, with 463 GWH of electricity generation, costing Rs 8577.824 million.

Dubair Khwar project is situated on right bank tributary of Indus River near Pattan. Height of the dam is 32 M and length of the tunnel is 5243 M and it will generate about 595 GWH of energy and Rs 9754.260 million will be spent on the project.

"Though we cannot meet the country's future requirements of energy through such small projects, however, WAPDA speeded up bridging escalating gap between demand and supply of energy," Brig(r) Muhammad Zareen said. He said that construction of road was an uphill task, which was assigned to NLC after a local contractor who had got the contract through open bidding showed his complete inability to construct the road.

However, NLC took construction of the road as a challenge and worked day and night to ensure its early completion and has already completed 75 percent work. Dubair Khwar hydropower project, located in district Kohistan would be completed at a cost of rupees three billion having power generation capacity of 130 MW.

Zareen said that the development of hydropower potential was complex and complicated, especially in those areas that the international financial markets consider being relatively risky. The main task in order to enable new investments would be to share the risks and benefits of new hydropower projects in a fair way. To a question that despite WAPDA's explanation there is still a credibility gap, he said for the Indus Tributaries High Head hydropower projects (Allai Khwar, Khan Khwar, Duber Khwar), the pre-qualification criteria required that the consortium/JV must have an annual financial turnover of US $300m and Pakistani firms were to have 30% and were required to fulfill the financial turnover criteria proportionate to their share in the project. However, he admitted that the financial turnovers of the Pakistani partners were not checked at the time of pre-qualification.

Zarin said that contractors in Pakistan needed to get together to formulate a defined methodology of approach to offer cost friendly solution to the government.

Initially there was no indigenous Pakistani institution capable of taking up such projects, GM said, adding that was an ideal field for GTZ to step in and support development of such institutions and to assist them to take care of this potential. This was started in 1984 and now we have reached the stage that hydropower projects could be realized. The government intends to do so and needs private investment and knowhow to realize this as well as the independent power producers who take up such projects on built, own, operate and transfer basis.