PESHAWAR: Work on two hydropower projects in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has been suspended for several months due to the shifting of the Chinese engineers to Islamabad over the resurgence of militancy in Malakand division last summer, official documents reveal.
One of these projects (84 megawatts) is being executed in Gorkin Matiltan area of Swat district and the other (11.8 megawatts) in Korora area of Shangla district.
The documents available with Dawn show that work on the Gorkin Matiltan project came to a grinding halt after Swat’s district police officer ordered the “demobilising” of the Chinese engineers working on it on July 5, 2022, due to deteriorating security situation in the district.
A document revealed that those engineers had been “sitting idle” in Islamabad since July 5, 2022.
It added that Swat’s deputy commissioner had allowed last Nov the mobilising of the Chinese engineers to the project site but military authorities expressed their unwillingness to do so without a security audit.
Chinese engineers moved to Islamabad for security reasons, reveal documents
Another document disclosed that work on the Karora project had been suspended since May 20 last year, barely a month before the project deadline, on account of security threats to the Chinese engineers.
It added that civil work on the power initiative had been completed, while electromechanical work was in progress before the delicate security situation suspended it.
“The Chinese [engineers] working on [Karora] project have been demobilised more than seven times since September 2021 on [the] security agencies’ instructions,” it said.
Meanwhile, the provincial government expressed concerns about “security threats” to the Chinese workers of the local hydropower projects and urged security agencies to take corrective steps.
“The government has expressed deep concern over the halting of work by a team of Chinese engineers working on ongoing hydropower projects in Swat and Shangla districts due to the worsening law and order situation and has asked the security agencies to make the best security arrangements by drawing up an action plan,” read an official statement issued following a high-level meeting chaired by provincial energy and power secretary Nisar Ahmed Khan here.
The meeting was attended by special secretary (energy) Tashfeen Haider, Pakhtunkhwa Energy Development Organisation chief executive officer Engineer Naeem Khan, Swat deputy commissioner Junaid Khan and other relevant officials.
According to the statement, the participants discussed security arrangements for billions of rupees worth of power projects in the province and hoped that an “integrated strategy would be adopted for their completion in the best interest of the people and government institutions.”
The official statement read that the security situation and a delay in project activities could cause heavy damage to the province.
It added that the meeting examined various options to make better arrangements for the security situation and approved important decisions, including the use of bulletproof vehicles for foreign engineers.
It also called for “more foolproof arrangements” for those foreigners by security agencies.
In July 2021, at least 12 people, including nine Chinese engineers working on the Dasu dam project in Upper Kohistan district, were killed in the suicide bombing of a bus carrying them.
Published in Dawn, january 3th, 2023