LAHORE: After the interest shown by the Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in hydropower projects in Pakistan, the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) has asked the bank to finance the 1,500MW Thakot-3 and 2,400MW Pattan projects—the mega hydel power schemes of the Indus Cascades.

The authority has also offered the bank to finance the power generation portion of the 4,500MW Diamer-Bhasha Dam, Dawn has learnt.

“The AIIB has already financed the construction of Tarbela 5th extension project by approving a soft loan of $300 million. The WB has also financed this scheme by approving a $390m loan. And now they (the AIIB), keeping in view the intensity of recent floods and wastage of huge water worth billions of dollars and the country’s less storage capacity, have visited us and expressed interest to finance our projects,” a senior Wapda official explained while talking to Dawn on Tuesday.

“In a meeting with the senior AIIB official at Wapda House on Tuesday, we also offered them Thakot-3 and Pattan projects to finance. We asked to also look into financing the Diamer-Bhasha Dam’s power generation portion,” the official who was privy to the meeting added.

It may be mentioned that the business development mission of the AIIB, headed by its Director General (Investments) Supee Teravaninthorn, called on Wapda Chairman retired Lt Gen Sajjad Ghani on Tuesday. The matters related to the financing of Wapda projects were discussed during the meeting.

Speaking on the occasion, the Wapda chief thanked the AIIB for the financial support for the under-construction 1,530MW Tarbela 5th Extension Hydropower Project.

Dilating upon the significance of the hydel electricity, he said, Wapda’s emphasis was on producing green energy.

“We intend to replace 9,000MW electricity being generated on costly fossil fuel with clean and low-cost hydel energy.

Since the Diamer-Bhasha Dam is planned to generate 4,500MW, hence, it alone will drastically cut the electricity generation through fossil fuel in Pakistan,” he said.

He said the AIIB could help Wapda for the purpose and participate in the power generation component of the Diamer Basha Dam project, he added. The chairman further said flood is a recurring phenomenon in Pakistan. Therefore, it is essentially needed to construct two or three mega water reservoirs in the country to mitigate floods and avoid further losses. “AIIB can also help Pakistan in the construction of dams,” he added.

AIIB Development Mission, on this occasion, showed keen interest in financing Wapda projects. “the AIIB and Wapda will remain closely associated and look into the possibilities of financial assistance for Wapda projects. Earlier, Wapda Member (Finance) briefed the Mission about investment prospects in under-construction as well as future projects of Wapda.

Meanwhile, AFD Energy Mission also had a meeting with chairman Wapda to finalise the loan agreement for Keyal Khwar Hydropower Project. The issues related to Warsak project were also discussed in the meeting.

Published in Dawn, September 7th, 2022

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