Byline: Malik Muhammad Ashraf
On July 5, Pakistan and China signed the accord for construction of 700 MW Azad Pattan Hydro Project at a cost of $1.5 billion which will be entirely foreign investment. The project also envisages the creation of 3000 jobs. Earlier on June 25, 2020 an agreement for the launch of 1142 MW Kohala Hydropower Project at a cost of $2.4 billion was also signed. Prime Minister Imran Khan performed the ground breaking ceremony of the project on June 26, 2020.
Chinese state-owned power developer, China Three Gorges Corporation (CTGC), the state-owned power developer, had won the right to develop the dam on January 7, 2015. It is the largest greenfield project among China's hydropower overseas investments to date. Located in the north-eastern region of Pakistan in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) on Jhelum River, the project has been listed as the 'Actively Promoted Project' in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) since August 2014, with both the governments of China and Pakistan keen for fast-track implementation of the project for providing cheap and reliable electricity to the National Grid of Pakistan and AJK. The project is being developed on the 'build-own-operate-transfer' basis.
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The government also signed a Rs442 billion contract with a joint venture of China Power and the Frontier Works Organisation for the construction of Diamer-Bhasha Dam on May 13, 2020. The project will produce 4500 MW of electricity. The Chinese state company holds 70 percent and the FWO 30 percent share in the consortium. The dam will also store 10 cubic kilometres of water that would be used for irrigation and drinking.
The idea for the construction of the Diamer-Bhasha dam was floated by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in 1998, but could not be translated into reality due to a variety of reasons including the withdrawal of support by the Asian Development Bank and World Bank after objections raised by India, which claimed that the dam was being built in a disputed territory. India has also made covert and overt efforts to sabotage CPEC and even lodged a protest with China in that regard. It has again protested to China on its participation in the construction of Diamer-Bhasha dam, a claim firmly dismissed by the latter.
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The credit for revival and going ahead with its construction of Diamer-Bhasha...