SHANGLA: Delay in inauguration of the 17-megawatt Ranolia hydropower project owing to lack of interest by the federal and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governments has deprived the national grid of getting 17MW of electricity for the last one year.

Sources said that despite completion of work for the last one year the project was still made operational. Work on the Asian Development Bank-funded power project at Ranolia in Kohistan district near Bisham city of Shangla district was started in 2013 and completed in March 2015. The Pakhtunkhwa Energy Development Organisation (Pedo) has constructed the Ranolia Khwar project at a cost of Rs4 billion.

The sources said that local people had stopped work on erecting electricity poles till provision of the compensation amount of up to Rs3 million for their land. The government had fixed Rs300,000 to Rs400,000 for 6ft to 10ft land for each tower. Besides, the local people have threatened to stop installation of poles till solution of their grievances.

Asad Umar claims centre responsible for the delay

Official sources at the Renolia project told Dawn that installation of electricity Tower No 6 in Pallas tehsil and Tower No 2 in Pattan tehsil were yet to be completed due to resistance by the local landowners. They said that handover of the project to the federal government had been delayed for the last one year owing to delay in resumption of work on the two disputed poles.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf central leader Asad Umar has claimed on social media (his official page) that the federal government was adopting delaying tactics in owning the Ranolia project. However, the people of Kohistan and Shangla have demanded of both the federal and provincial governments to make the project operational as soon as possible.

Assistant director Ranolia hydropower project Said Nabi told this correspondent that work on the project had been completed in 2015, but inauguration was delayed due to hurdles created by people of Kohistan in Pallas and Pattan tehsils. He said that all towers had been installed except two where the landowners were demanding more money than the rate fixed by the government.

He said that the administration had assured them to summon and convince the landowners to allow installation of poles.

When contacted, PTI lawmaker Shaukat Yousafzai said that the issue would be resolved on priority and Ranolia power project would soon start electricity supply to the national grid. He criticised the federal government for delaying tactics to own the Pedo’s project through NTDC. He said that PTI chairman Imran Khan would inaugurate the Ranolia project soon after Eidul Fitr.

Published in Dawn, July 9th, 2016