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FPCCI ties new hydropower projects to energy, water security

Business

July 9, 2020

KARACHI: Pakistan has to develop mega and small dams and hydropower projects if it wants to avert water and energy crisis in the coming years, an industry official said on Wednesday.

Anjum Nisar, president of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) hoped that the proposed 700MW Azad Pattan hydropower project would be complete within time. He welcomed the Pakistan-China agreement for construction of the project as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. He advised the government to also include more hydropower projects in its plan, as the country could not afford to rely on costly and anti-environment fossil fuels.

“FPCCI is hopeful that the project, located on river Jhelum, will be completed within its time frame in 2026 and will not be delayed like several other hydropower projects in the country,” said Nisar. “The new project would enable the country to move towards cheaper and greener power, inviting investment of $1.5 billion besides generating local job opportunities.”

Nisar said as much as 20 million acres of barren land could be brought under plough if the water is made available by developing water storages in the country. With construction of dams, the country can strengthen its agriculture to attain food security and cope up with the fast growing needs of water in domestic and industrial sectors besides injecting sizeable low-cost hydroelectricity into the national grid to stabilise the national economy.

Nisar said the proposed Kohala and Mahl hydropower projects would prove to be a milestone in the country’s development and prosperity. He also called for speedy work of other power projects, including Shargthang, Hanzal, Chilas, Naltar and Hassanabad Hunza, besides early construction of Kalabagh dam, which is the most suitable project for the national economy as it would produce cheap and sufficient electricity.

FPCCI president said all stakeholders including the business community are ready to play their due role to implement the national water policy for food and energy security of the country. Kalabagh dam should not be ignored at any cost, as water scarcity is heading towards the point of no return. Those opposing the Kalabagh dam are unaware of the ground realities.

“How can a mega water project be harmful for an agrarian country,” he asked. “One million acres feet of water gives benefit valued at $2 billion annually to the economy, while Pakistan is throwing away 35 million acres feet of water by delaying construction of the dam. We are wasting $70 billion a year, which is almost equal to the country’s external debt,” he said.

Hydropower is the most advanced and mature renewable energy technology and provides some level of electricity generation in more than 160 countries worldwide including.

Moreover, hydropower is an attractive renewable option given the low-cost of electricity it produces, low greenhouse gas emissions and the flexibility it provide to the grid. Indus River System Authority has constantly been issuing warning to the government on water scarcity and urged that all development budget should be spent only on enhancing water storage capacity, Nisar said.