1st Int’l virtual conference on Pakistan’s hydropower sector

Two provinces, Gilgit-Baltistan say federal govt providing least or no support to develop hydropower resource in their areas

Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Gilgit-Baltistan, all have said that they have not been getting the desired cooperation from the federal authorities concerned to utilize the massive potential in their respective areas to generate hydroelectricity as one of the cheapest and environmental friendly source of energy for the country.

The concerned authorities of two provinces and Gilgit-Baltistan region were speaking at the 1st International virtual conference on hydropower sector of Pakistan, organized by the Energy Update.

The representatives of Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Gilgit-Baltistan said that electricity consumers would be the ultimate sufferers across Pakistan till the time the country delayed fully harnessing its massive hydropower resource as the cheap mode of energy.

Speaking on the occasion, Punjab Energy Minister Dr Muhammad Akhtar Malik said that Punjab had the largest canal system in the country having massive potential to produce hydroelectricity.

He said that utilization of this potential was getting delayed due to slow processing of the formalities of the new hydropower projects by the relevant federal agencies. “I would rather say that we have got a cold shoulder from federal government on this issue,” said the Punjab Energy minister.

He said that the relevant federal authorities had to assist the provinces in this matter for the greater national cause as the country needs cheap electricity in abundance produced through indigenous resources of energy.

He said that small hydroelectricity projects should be developed in the country on a war-footing with involvement of private sector as it would generate sizable employment opportunities and also serve as an income resource for prospective private investors.

He suggested formation of a joint action committee at the national level comprising of all the concerned stakeholders from the provinces and centre for expeditious development of hydropower projects in the country.

Gilgit-Baltistan Power Development Minister Muhammad Ali Khan said on the occasion that the GB had the massive potential of producing up to 55,000 Megawatts hydroelectricity. He said that lack of financial resources and absence of any power policy were the two main obstacles in the passage towards realization of this massive potential to produce clean electricity in the country. He said that there were 128 potential sites in the GB to install small hydropower projects.

Shah Jahan Mirza, Managing Director of PPIB, said that the PPIB had been facilitating construction of new hydropower projects in the country to the maximum possible extent so that funding for this renewable form of energy could be arranged from the international financing institutions.

He said that the PPIB had also encouraged development of new energy projects in Azad Kashmir keeping in view its massive potential to produce electricity through its hydro resources.

He said that owing to the contribution of the PPIB the independent power producers had been playing an important role in fulfilling energy needs of Pakistan.
Engineer Naeem Khan, CEO of Pukhtunkhwa Energy Development Organization (PEDO), said that the share of hydroelectricity in the energy mix of Pakistan was once up to 60 per cent as it was no more the case as his organization had been getting least support from the federal government to expeditiously develop new hydropower resources in the country.

He said that the provinces and federal government should join hands to alter the current energy mix of the country by increasing share of hydroelectricity that was the best choice for the country given its cheap cost and friendly status for the environment. “We should raise our voice to make the policymakers realize that hydroelectricity is the need of the hour whose development should be prioritized,” said the PEDO CEO.

He said that increased reliance on hydroelectricity would also slash the fuel import bill of the country. He said that much effort had to be done to fully harness massive hydroelectricity potential of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Dr Tahir Masood, NESPAK Managing-Director, said that technology and technical resources for hydroelectricity projects should be locally manufactured in Pakistan.

He said that local manpower for the upcoming hydroelectricity projects should be utilized for which proper training programmes should be conducted.

He said that the proponents of new hydroelectricity projects in the country should keep in their mind that they were competing against other forms of renewable electricity like solar and wind power so it was necessary that cost of hydropower should remain cheap for sustainability of this important clean energy resource of the country. He also supported construction of Kalabagh Dam in the country especially after the government had announced construction of big water reservoirs in the country like Mohmand and Diamer-Bhasha dams.

Naeem Qureshi, chairman of organizing committee of the event, said that the conference had been organized with aim to provide a viable forum for all the concerned stakeholders to get assembled at one place, discuss, and find a way forward to promote and develop hydroelectricity resources in Pakistan in the best interests of energy consumers in the country.
In his concluding remarks, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Power Division Shahzad Qasim assured complete support of the federal government for development of new hydropower projects in the country with involvement of private sector.
He appreciated the efforts of the organizers of the conference for providing a platform where all the relevant stakeholders of the energy sector gathered to adopt a viable strategy to develop and promote hydropower resource as a viable mean of clean power production in the country.
He said that more such events should be held for finding viable solutions to resolve energy issues of the country.
COO Mira Power Sultan Ahmed, Sr. Adviser China Three Gorges NA Zuberi, Director Projects Hydro PPIB Dr. Munawar Iqbal, Manager International Business K Water Resources and others also spoke on this occasion.

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