GWADAR: Emerging from the scratch, the small port city of Gwadar currently facing 50-60 per cent energy and water shortage is expected to soon have the country’s largest airport and a dedicated oil city spread over 80,000 acres.

A group of journalists from Islamabad visiting Gwadar was told in a series of briefings that the secluded port city of 216,000 population on the strategic location of the mouth of Straits of Hormuz witnessing more than 70 per cent of the world oil trade at present was facing acute water and power shortfall.

The groundwater is brackish and hence unfit for human consumption and sweat water sources are too far, insufficient and dependant on rainfall. The current water requirement is about 6 million gallons per day (MGD) and water supply is no more than 2.5MGD, leaving a shortfall of almost 4MGD, according to Dr Sajjad H. Baloch, director general of Gwadar Development Authority.

Likewise, the current power demand for Gwadar is estimated at 25-30 megawatt against a peak supply of about 14MW, he said. The port city currently has a small airport, built in the 1970s, capable of handling Fokker and ATR planes.

All this would change gradually as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) makes progress. The pace of physical development — roads, buildings, energy and water projects and surveys — on ground suggest the transformation may be faster than many believe. The things would get going once the Gwadar Master Plan is finally submitted to Pakistan authorities by their Chinese counterparts by Aug 14.

The city will soon have the country’s largest airport

Dr Sajjad explained that the central attraction of the modern Gwadar under CPEC would be Mega Oil City spread over an area of 80,000 acres of land. “We have shared the PC-1 (project concept papers) of the petrochemical complexes and other oil installations to the federal Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources and have allocated the required land”.

Under the master plan, he said a total of 290,000 acres of land would be required for the new city, including 160,000 acres for residential needs.

Responding to questions regarding drinking water availability, Dr Sajjjad said currently there was no direct water supply taking place in the area against a requirement of 6MGD. About 2MGD water was being supplied from two small dams through tankers. “We have a deficit of four million gallon per day,” he said, adding the demand would increase to 12MGD by 2020.

Talking about the projects other than CPEC being implemented in Gwadar, he said the federal government was funding the construction of roads and more than 200km of road projects against a total of 324km had already been completed. Two fish harbours are also being funded by the federal government while a public sector technical institute was also under construction besides an underground electricity supply system to be spread over 35kilometers.

A representative of China Airport Construction Group Corporation, Jianxin Liao, and Civil Aviation Authority focal person Shoab Soomro said the soil testing for New International Airport would be completed by early February to enable finalisation of project design that would be available by April 2018.

The airport would be spread over an area of 4,300 acres compared to 3,700 acres of Karachi airport, 2,800 acres of Lahore airport and about 3,600 acres of under completion new Islamabad airport. The airport would be capable to handle large 380 aircraft and more than a million passengers per annum on completion in three years after contract signing through bidding.

Dr Sajjad, responding to a question, said that there were three government housing schemes in Gwadar besides about 100 private schemes. Out of the 100 private schemes, 75 have been suspended for being inactive for long time and would only be allowed to resume work after formal approval of the Gwadar Master plan.

Replying to another question, he said work was in progress for generation of 45MW electricity through generators on interim basis until a 300MW coal-based plant was built by Chinese companies. A memorandum of understanding had also been signed with Iran for the supply of 100MW for which Iran had already completed 80 per cent transmission line.

Published in Dawn, January 22nd, 2018

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