Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif addresses to the inaugural ceremony of Pakistan's first private Hydro Power Project near Mangla Dam in Azad Kashmir on Monday. – INP Photo
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif addresses to the inaugural ceremony of Pakistan's first private Hydro Power Project near Mangla Dam in Azad Kashmir on Monday. – INP Photo

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan opened its first private hydroelectric power plant on Monday, moving to tackle a deepening energy crisis that has devastated its already struggling economy.

The new government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif won an election in May partly on promises to fix persistent power cuts lasting some 12 hours in parts of the nuclear-armed nation of 180 million people.

On Monday, Sharif travelled to Pakistan-administered Kashmir to oversee the launch of a new project he says will offer a significant boost to the ailing power sector.

“I hope that because of this and other initiatives, there will be a substantial decrease in power cuts in the coming days,” Sharif said in televised remarks.

He said the project was a milestone in the country's history and would pave way for construction of similar projects to cater to the power needs of various sectors of economy.

The project will not only substantially improve power supply but also open new vistas of development, he added.

Built near an existing river dam and developed by a local private company, the 84 megawatt New Bong Escape Hydropower Project is expected to produce electricity at a much lower cost than thermal generated power.

It is also part of a broader plan to overhaul the moribund power sector by handing over parts of it to private hands.

The plant's cost of construction was not clear and the company in charge of the project was not responding to phone calls. However, the state run news agency APP reported that the project, completed at a cost of $ 215 million in 40 months, will produce 84 megawatts of electricity, which will be added to the national grid through a 132 kv transmission line.

The project built with the assistance of Asian Development Bank and a number of other financial institutions, has been completed by Laraib Energy Limited on built, operate and transfer (BOT) basis.

Power cuts have worsened in Pakistan in recent years, becoming one of the main sources of public discontent in the South Asian country which generates about 8,000 MW of power - way below its total demand estimated at around 15,000 MW.

The deepening shortages have already sparked violent protests in the past and cost hundreds of thousands of jobs, adding to Pakistan's long list of economic and security woes.

“We have to move from oil to coal, hydro and gas-based power generation to bring down costs,” said Miftah Ismail, who has co-authored the Sharif government's new energy policy.

Some, however, are sceptical the project can offer any quick fixes unless the government acts more decisively to tackle rampant electricity theft and pay off debt choking the sector.


Do you have information you wish to share with Dawn.com? You can email our News Desk to share news tips, reports and general feedback. You can also email the Blog Desk if you have an opinion or narrative to share, or reach out to the Special Projects Desk to send us your Photos, or Videos.

More From This Section

Comments (12) Closed




pakiboy
Jul 15, 2013 08:51pm

only 84 MW .. and such hue and cry ... they r trying to cache in that ppl dont know how much 84MW is ..

Bilal Habib
Jul 15, 2013 09:05pm

Malakand III project has been developed at the cost of 6 billion Rs, while this Bong project has been developed at 21 billion Rs. Both generating 84 MW of electricity. The reason is that in KPK and FATA highly suitable locations are available for hydro-development. Therefore, Federal and provincial govt should co-operate to exploit this cheap source of energy.

jalil
Jul 15, 2013 09:20pm

Honorable Prime Minister & Water and Power Minister, Such opening ceremonies remind of the old culture of 90's of boasting the performance of the incumbent government but yet no solid and real steps have been taken to tackle the menace of electricity shortage just like the Budget 2013 that has just burdened the common people. The only reason of this inability of current government is lack of courage and vigor to tackle and face the real challenge and no to awake the real monster i.e. to address the grass root level issues like in case of electricity shortage, you keep on pumping more and more energy into this corrupt distribution and transmission sector and the result would be that it would vanish in to the hands of those who are already enjoying the loop holes present in the system. Why not the government consult foreign consultants for a very thorough study of the problem and propose and later strictly implement their findings like e.g. using pre paid card billing scheme in electricity which is in practice in many countries or using centralized meter system in the vicinity just like DP's of PTCL where the billing is automatically generated and sent to grid for verification so that only the pure losses are there and no official has hands on the billing procedure. There could be other procedures that can be adopted and would ensure transparent supply of electricity.But this requires a great political and moral will that current government greatly lacks as it has shown its intent in the current budget that has only levelled taxes on already tax paying community and introduced no solid tax expansion mechanism and real tax evaders are still at par as most of them have supported or helped elected representatives. Alas, the electricity dilema has the same story. Firstly government should conduct a transparent survey identifying the real problem and not relying on the presentations of PEPCO, WAPDA, DESCO's etc who just want to save their skin and avoid projecting the real problem. Then in light of those surveys it would come to light that the major problem is mismanagment and corruption and only introducing new power sources would never suffice this crippling system and would ultimately result in increased tarifs as we would invest more and give more and more losely litigated investment in to the hands of private sector. Hope

Ghufran
Jul 15, 2013 10:15pm

i just need to know that instead of waiting for those great and big planned projects for producing electricity, why we are encouraging our young generation engineers who came up from time to time with brilliant ideas of producing cheapest electricity regionally or with in cities. why our government is not creting opportunities to take over those projects and scale them to implement on the larger scale in near future so we may start getting relief slowly. only prayers are not enough, we have to change ourselves and our way of thinking and plan of action now.

Fd muon
Jul 15, 2013 11:20pm

Only 84 watts for $215 million. Pathetic

Tamza
Jul 15, 2013 11:45pm

Nice going PML-N. The first chink in the electricity-power shortage. At $215M for 84MW, ie $2.15/w, seems a bit steep. Solar is at about $3/watt even in the high-labor-cost countries, and even for small installations. At large scale it would be down to about $2/w.

Imran
Jul 15, 2013 11:54pm

PML-N government obviously has nothing to do with the construction of this project. They are only inaugurating it.

Salman
Jul 16, 2013 12:12am

I appriciate the firstever step taken by Nawaz Sharif. I just want to request Prime Minister through Dawn News that he and his government should privatise all organizations such as Power, Trains, Airlines and others if they want real development in the country. In the cities like London, public transport is passanger friendly and they request people to travel in underground tubes and trains and buses but unfortunatly we do not get a ticket to travel in the train or PIA in Pakistan. These are important maters which makes a country real nation.

Thanks

DK
Jul 16, 2013 01:12am

May ask what happened to the old Bong?

Shahryar Shirazi
Jul 16, 2013 01:38am

Why is Zardari not given credit for this if its a completed projected ?

abdul piracha
Jul 16, 2013 02:19am

Mian Nawaz Sharif is working hard to resolve energy crises and making sure the cheap electricity is produced to lower burden on common man. I wish him success.

SH
Jul 16, 2013 04:02am

it is obviously a proejct that was conceived and brought to fruitation by the previous regime. While it is great that Private sector has been encourgaed to participate in this sector that would help mitigate the power shortage. New Government should distance itself from making political points and try not to take credit for something that where they had made no contibution. If we are to solve the problem of power shortgae and other issues that confront the newly elected government then start with giving the electorate details of the plan, hopefully a realistic one, that is going to be exececuted and not make false promises like the previous disfunctional government.