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Project good example of govt-donor collaboration: Ambassador Cautain

By our correspondents
December 01, 2016

1.2MW EU-funded power station inaugurated in Kalam

MINGORA: Much to the joy of local communities, the European Union-funded 1.2 megawatts power station was formally inaugurated at Ashuran in scenic Kalam valley on Wednesday.

EU Ambassador Jean-François Cautain, the political leadership of KP, and board members of Sarhad Rural Support Programme (SRSP) attended the event.

The power plant has been built by SRSP with the help of the local communities under the EU-funded Programme for Economic Advancement and Community Empowerment (PEACE).

It will bring cheap, sustainable and uninterrupted energy to around 4,000 connections benefitting more than 10,000 families, 88 hotels and restaurants, 212 local shops, 26 mosques, and 23 government facilities including health units and schools, and communications networks are also expected to connect to the power in Kalam town. Started test production a few days ago, the power station was formally inaugurated by the EU ambassador.

In 2013, the government of Khyber Pakthunkhwa had handed over to SRSP two dysfunctional micro-hydropower stations at Jungle Inn and Ashuran at Kalam, which had been set up by SHYDO to supply 200 and 400 KW of power to Kalam, respectively.

These units were destroyed in the 2010 floods and militancy in the area and required total rehabilitation. The SRSP has not only restored them, but also increased the capacity of Jungle Inn to 400 KW, and the Ashuran to 1.2 MW.

The SRSP was able to restore the Jungle Inn hydro station within four months. This has been supplying electricity to parts of Kalam and greatly helped boost tourism in the area. The Ashuran Unit’s restoration took 2.5 years.

The EU ambassador visited the intake, where he opened the control gates for water flow into the channel. He then inaugurated the computer controlled Ashurun Mini-Hydro Power Station. He said he was delighted to meet communities, which had shown unparalleled resilience in addressing the calamities of floods and conflict.

The ambassador said the EU had supported the PEACE and CDLD projects in the Malakand Division in conformity with government policies. He said the aim of these two rural development projects is to help communities organise and work with local government to rebuild their communities and address priority issues. For this, the EU has provided funding worth a total of EUR120 million.

He also said the involvement of communities ensured ownership of the project. The local communities have been trained to operate and maintain the power plant, making it very sustainable.

The ambassador said the PEACE project was a good example of building voice, promoting peace and solidarity, which were important values for EU.

“Seeing the projects and being fully aware of what they were doing, I would be happy to report back home that European taxpayers’ money in the form of EU funds are well spent and are in hands of organisations that valued and respected them,” he added.

He said the EU would continue to support the government of Pakistan to address important needs of its deserving communities according to Pakistan’s national priorities.He also congratulated SRSP CEO Masoodul Mulk and his team for building the project in a very short time and at low costs.

The function was also addressed by Provincial Minister Mahmud Khan, District Nazim Muhammad Ali, MPA Syed Jaffer Shah and Additional Secretary Water and Power Ghazanfar Ali, and Rural Support Programmes Network (RSPN) Chairman Shoaib Sultan Khan. They thanked the European Union for the assistance it was giving in Malakand division to the government.

Mahmud Khan said that Ashuran was one of the new and innovative ways of service delivery that the government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf was experimenting within the province. He said the commitment of the government could be gauged from the fact that Chief Minister Pervez Khattak and PTI chief Imran Khan had attended the launching ceremony of the project.

Munawar Khan, a local hotel manager, said that noise pollution of petrol generators run by hotels had destroyed the serenity of the area. With these two hydro projects, the serenity had returned to the place and the costs of electricity at each hotel had been reduced to Rs30,000 on average from Rs130,000 they were previously paying, he added.

Naseem, a student, said that hundreds of households were now able to use the mobile system as local exchanges could now function. About 88 hotels would benefit directly from the project.

The PEACE Project in Malakand Division is working at 165 sites to generate electricity using the water potential of the area and would generate over 21.7 MW of electricity to benefit about 75,000 households in the region. In the coming months, a 2 MW unit is expected to start producing electricity for Chitral town, and a few units producing over 600kw of electricity become operational in Chitral, Shangla and Upper Dir.

SRSP CEO Masoodul Mulk said that the project would be run as a social enterprise by the organisation. It would be run on a financially sustainable basis but electricity rates would be kept at levels that do not make them exploitative for the community.

The community, as it fulfils its obligations, would be asked to assume greater role in its governance. SRSP plans to pump financial surpluses from the project into the communities to promote social development, particularly for women.

He also said the hydro energy would reduce carbon emissions and help in conserving the natural forest reserves in the area. The CEO thanked the divisional and district administration and Pakistan Army for facilitating the entire process of building the project.