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PM brings the economics of hydropower under govt focus

  • Inaugurates renovation project of Mangla Power Station Unit 5 and 6
Published December 6, 2022
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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif inaugurated the renovation project of Mangla Power Station Unit 5 and 6 on Monday. The Prime Minister’s Office said that under the renovation project of Mangla Power Plant, 50-year-old machinery is being replaced with new machinery in all the units.

After the completion of the renovation project, the capacity of Mangla Power Plant will increase from 1,000 MW to 1,310 MW, as a result of which 5.6 billion units of clean, environment-friendly and low-cost electricity will be generated, annually.

In the first phase, about 90 per cent of the work on the renovation of six out of 10 units has been completed while the prime minister inaugurated the completion of units 5 and 6.

Of the total cost of ongoing work on the project of US$483 million, the US$150 million grant is being provided by USAID, AFD loan of Euro 90 million, whereas, US$178 million is being provided by Wapda.

On this occasion, Special Assistant Tariq Fatemi, Azad Kashmir Prime Minister Sardar Tanveer Ilyas, Chairman Wapda Lieutenant General Sajjad Ghani (retired), US Ambassador to Pakistan Donald Bloom, and USAID Mission Director Reed Aeschliman were also present.

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Addressing the ceremony after inauguration, the prime minister said that said that the project is a wonderful example of cooperation, adding that the country cannot afford expensive electricity as because of war between Ukraine and Russia, oil prices are skyrocketing.

The prime minister said that the secret of Pakistan’s development lies in affordable and cheap electricity. He regretted that no substantial effort was made to produce hydel power. He said that Pakistan cannot afford expensive electricity following the sharp increase in oil prices after the war between Ukraine and Russia.

He further stated that this dam, which has served the nation for many decades, now needs renovation and improvement, adding that the upgradation of Mangla is very important.

The premier said that back in 1960, the project was conceived as one of the largest water reservoir dams whose credit goes to the then government. This was a marvellous development towards nation-building in Pakistan in 1960, which helped agriculture, industry, and provided cheap and clean electricity to the people of Pakistan.

And for the past five decades, this dam has made a valuable contribution to Pakistan’s economy, he added. Now the dam obviously required upgradation and refurbishment and to this effect, a valuable contribution of US$150 million is made by the USAID, French Development Agency has given a loan of US$90 million Euros and an additional commitment of Euro 65 million, and Rs20 billion by the WAPDA. This is an example of a wonderful partnership and the USAID also wishes to engage in the further extension of the Tarbela Dam.

Pakistan is facing difficult challenges and the present government is trying to face them, and a few days ago, the payment of Sukuk bond of $1 billion was made. He said that no one can take the credit of Mangla dam from Ayub Khan and for the Karachi Steel Mills from Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. He said, likewise, when the electricity crisis was at its peak in 2014, the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had taken measures to address them.

He said that if hydropower projects were initiated in the last 75 years, the country’s energy bill, which has reached $27 billion per annum, would not have been so much. He said that developing countries such as Pakistan cannot afford such expense. We can produce 60,000 MW through hydropower but only 10,000 MW are being produced.

He further said that due to climate change, floods played havoc with Pakistan, while Pakistan’s contribution to the climate change was negligible. He said he wanted this to be understood by other countries.

He said that due to the joint efforts of the Pakistani leadership, Pakistan’s point of view was heard at the international forum and a “loss and damage” fund was created.

US Ambassador Donald Blome joined Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif at Mangla Hydro Power Station Monday to celebrate completion of a $150 million US-funded project to refurbish and improve the station’s power generation capacity, said a press release issue on Monday.

The project adds 300 megawatts of additional power to the station’s capacity, enough to provide power to 100,000 households and two million Pakistanis.

The US-funded project in collaboration with private firms and the Pakistan Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) is the latest project in a long history of US assistance to help Pakistan develop clean, renewable energy.

“This project builds upon the foundational partnership of the original construction. We are proud of our enduring efforts to help extend Mangla Dam’s useful service as a reliable source of clean energy and irrigation water,” said Ambassador Blome. “When Mangla Dam was built in the 1960s by US engineering firms, it was one of the largest earth-filled dams in the world. Not only is it an impressive achievement in engineering, it is also an excellent example of the Green Alliance between the United States and Pakistan.”

The United States invested in Pakistan’s electrification more than 50 years ago, constructing dams and hydropower plants that continue to provide reliable, efficient, and clean energy today. These projects dramatically increased Pakistan’s electricity capacity – today powering the homes of more than 50 million people. The dams also help to prevent catastrophic water shortages, mitigate the effects of flooding and expand agricultural productivity.

The Mangla and Tarbela Dams alone can store about 10 percent of the water passing through Pakistan. Gomal Zam Dam irrigation doubled agricultural output in the surrounding area, providing food and economic opportunities to thousands of people, and helped save lives and livelihoods during the recent flooding.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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