Work on £1.12bn 700MW hydropower plant starts in Kashmir
The government of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir has signed agreements with a Chinese company and a local renewable energy firm for the construction of a 700MW hydropower project at an estimated cost of £1.12 billion.
Developed as part of the ambitious China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the project is located on the Jhelum river in the Sadhanoti district of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The main shareholders of the Azad Pattan Hydropower Project are China Gezhouba Group and its local partner Laraib Group Pakistan.
The consortium of lenders consists of China Development Bank, China Construction Bank, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and Bank of China.
Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan says that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor will be a ‘game changer’ for the country, bringing in ‘unprecedented prosperity and progress to Pakistan’.
“It (CPEC) is a project that will take Pakistan to new heights [of prosperity],” the prime minister says, speaking after the signing of the agreement with China Gezhouba for Azad Pattan Hydropower Project.
“Pakistan can learn with the progress made by emerging economic power, China, during the last 30 years,” Khan adds, while pointing out that he was glad that the hydropower project was being commissioned under the CPEC.
“Earlier, the CPEC was confined to road connectivity, but now other aspects of the corridor are being unfolded.”
The implementation agreement and water usage charges agreement for the construction of the project were signed by PoK Electricity Secretary Zafar Mahmood Khan and Azad Pattan Power Private Limited CEO Li Xiaota.
The 700MW project will not involve fuel import, enabling Pakistan to move towards cheaper and greener power while creating job opportunities, local media report say. Work on the project is expected to be completed in 2026.
“Time would prove the long-term benefits of CPEC, which is based on the economic cooperation between Pakistan and China,” the prime minister says, adding that it was part of the investment to complete the power project based on clean energy.
“Unlike the past, the project will not burden the people. The previous governments launched costly projects, which were made functional with imported fuel, thus increasing the cost of energy manifolds and stressing the local currency,” he explains.
The Project is being developed under the Government of Pakistan Policy for Power Generation 2002 (as adopted by AJ&K) on Build-Own-Operate-Transfer (BOOT) basis, whereby it would be transferred to the Government of AJ&K free of cost at the end of a 30-year concession term, a statement on the company website says.
It adds that Azad Pattan HPP is one of several cascade projects planned by the Government of Pakistan on River Jhelum comprising (from upstream to downstream) Chakoti Hattian, Kohala, Mahal, Azad Pattan and Karot. Once commissioned, the Project shall be generating more than 3.265 billion units of clean energy per year. Energy generation from the project is expected to commence by the year 2024.