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Wapda to add 6,000MW hydropower in five years: chairman

The Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) will add 6,000MW hydropower within next five years and another 15,000MW by 2020 subject to regular availability of funds, said Syed Raghib Abbas Shah, chairman of Wapda.

Around 420MW of cheap hydroelectric power would be added by March 2013, while 1,000MW Neelum-Jehlum would be commission in 2016 and, at the same time, 1,450MW power generation through fourth tunnel of Tarbela would be available in the system, he said.

The World Bank has approved a loan of $850 million for Tarbela extension, he said, adding that prequalification bids have been called and tenders would be awarded by March 2013.

Shah said the Tunnel 5 is also available at Tarbela, which could produce another 1,000MW. A feasibility study is being carried out, he said, adding that the project is technically more complicated but hopefully the work on both the tunnels would continue side by side.

The power generation capacity of Tarbela would increase to 5,850MW from the current 3,400MW in the next five years.

The Wapda chairman said that the new secretary water and power has assured the authority that its payments against hydroelectric power supplied would be streamlined. None of the Wapda officials revealed the exact amount of the dues against power supplied by it at Rs1.15 per unit to Pakistan Electricity Power Company (Pepco).

Sources in the ministry of water and power had said last week that the Wapda receivables against Pepco have crossed Rs100 billion.

Shah admitted that the main hurdle in speedy completion of Neelum-Jehlum was paucity of funds. However, the work has not yet stopped, he said.

He praised the contractor and consultants of the project for their competence and efficiency. The tunnel boring machines imported by the authority to speed up the work required more funding, he said, adding that Wapda is sparing money from other projects to keep this project going.

Pakistan and India are in race to complete similar hydroelectric projects on River Jhelum. If India commissions the project first, it will get the right to use the river water for power generation.

The Wapda chairman said that Pakistan could complete the project much earlier than India if the required funding are regularly provided.

Talking about his development strategy, Shah said the authority is concentrating on completing four major projects before December and is diverting most of the available resources for these projects.

These include 121MW Alai Khwar project, Jinnah hydroelectric project, Gomal Zam and Satpara dams.

Since these projects are at the finishing stages their completion would first increase the Wapda income through power generation and irrigation. Secondly, he said, the huge recurring expenses on these projects would be eliminated leaving Wapda to bear only the maintenance and operation costs.

After December, all the resources being spent on these projects would be available for other Wapda schemes, he said, adding that priority would be given to those projects that could be completed earlier and generate income for the authority.

Wapda has guarded its creditability at all forums, said Shah. It is fulfilling all the power sector commitments it made to the creditors when water and power wing were under its control. “It is paying Azad Jammu and Kashmir government the hydroelectric royalty though it is not subject it to release the payment by Pepco for the power supplied.

The government released the required funding in the first quarter of this fiscal year, according to the allocations promised in the budget and has promised that the entire promised funding for the next quarter would also be provided, said Shah.

Wapda projects would face problems if the funding is curtailed or stopped, he said, adding that the authority is determined to add 2,000MW from Dassu hydroelectric project within the next five years, if the pledged funding is provided. The remaining 2,500MW from this project would be available in the system by 2020. He said 7,000MW Bunji, 4,500MW from Diamer-Bhasha and 1,500MW from Satpara would be available if the funding lines are not choked.

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