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ISLAMABAD: Chinese company M/s China Three Gorges South Asia Investment Ltd (CSAIL) has reportedly expressed serious concern over restrictions on movement of its employees working on 720 MW Karot hydropower project due to security threat, well-informed sources told Business Recorder.

SCAIL, is an investment holding company formed by China Three Gorges Corporation, which is the world’s largest clean energy company with power generation capacity of over 140,000 MW.

CSAIL is currently operating and developing six renewable energy projects in Pakistan, with total installed capacity of over 2,600 MW having more than $ 6 billion of investment. These projects include 720 MW Karot Hydro Power Project (HPP) in Punjab, 1124 MW Kohala HPP in AJK, 640 MW Mahl HPP in AJK and 3x50 MW wind power projects in Sindh.

CSAIL outlines its contribution to national grid under CPEC

The 720 MW Karot HPP on Jhelum River is the largest private power project. The project achieved Commercial Operation Date (COD) on June 29, 2022 and is providing economical, clean and green energy to the national grid of Pakistan since its COD. The Karot Hydropower Project is the largest hydropower project under CPEC and foolproof security of the project is being provided by Pakistan Army.

In a letter to Secretary Interior, Aftab Akbar Durrani company appreciated the security arrangements made by Pakistan Army for the equipment and workers at the project site. However, critical security challenges are currently impeding the repair and maintenance activities of the Project at the Karot site.

According to the company, the recent security red alerts issued by Pakistan Army at the project site resulted in severe restrictions on the movement of Chinese workers within the project site, almost bringing crucial activities to a standstill. This situation is particularly critical given the tight timelines for essential tasks that must be completed during the low water months.

“In the past month, the project received threats, leading to the prohibition of Chinese workers’ movement within the site, as well as preventing equipment and construction from entering the site for security reasons.

As a consequence, all activities vital for the completion of urgent repair and maintenance work have come to a halt,“ said Wang Minsheng, Chief Executive Officer, CSAIL, in the letter, a copy of which has also been sent to Manager Director PPIB, Shah Jahan Mirza.

The company maintains that it is crucial to highlight that specific repair and maintenance activities for Hydro Power Projects can only be undertaken during low water months, and the company is currently engaged in essential tasks critical to the project’s success. The stoppage of work at this juncture has serious technical and financial implications on the Karot Project.

The following critical works need completion during the low water months: (i) river cleaning; (ii) new Karoot bridge pile repair; (iii) repair of spillway energy dissipation area; (iv) winter maintenance work of power plant; (v) permanent camp construction; and (vi) road repair.

CSIAL has further stated that the current low water flow in the Jhelum River has led to the lowest power generation at the Karot Hydropower project.

Consequently, the necessary repair and maintenance works can only be executed during these months. However, the Pakistan Army frequently restricts Chinese workers from accessing the various important installations of the project at the site, thereby impacting repair and maintenance activities and potentially compromising the reliable operation of the project in the future.

In light of existing challenges, the company has requested Ministry of Energy’s strong support to ensure the smooth operation and construction activities at the Karot site, with unrestricted movement of Chinese workers, saying that timely intervention is essential to avoid further delays and adverse implications on this critical infrastructure project.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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