ISLAMABAD: The Rs30 billion worth of much-delayed Golen Gol Hydropower Project in Chitral is getting ready for power generation in about two months, however, locals may not be able to consume the electricity owing to distribution constraints.
Informed sources in the Power Division said the first 36-megawatt unit of the project was nearing completion and expected to start generation before Dec 31 under a revised deadline set by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.
During a visit to Chitral early last year, Mr Sharif had announced dedication of first unit (36MW) to the marble city and people of Chitral and adjoining areas who complained excessive loadshedding, low-voltage and fewer electricity connections.
He had directed Wapda to accelerate project construction and ordered the Peshawar Electric Supply Company (Pesco) to augment distribution system to absorb 36MW electricity from the new unit to meet requirements of the area people.
The sources said while Wapda mobilised additional resources to deliver on the government directive, Pesco struggled on its part to lay lines for supplying additional electricity from Golen Gol to Chitral and adjoining areas at around 22-kilometre distance. Even if Wapda is able to operationalise first unit, “the laxity on part of Pesco can cost dearly to the people in Chitral,” an official said.
“The only action taken by Pesco so far is the submission of a PC-I amounting to Rs5bn to the federal government but was not actively pursuing for its approval by the Planning Commission. When contacted, a Wapda spokesperson said the authority was on schedule to deliver the first unit by December, but declined to comment on the readiness of the distribution company to evacuate power.
The 108MW project was originally planned to start in 1996 but actually commenced construction in 2002 with a completion deadline of 2011. Its approved cost was estimated at Rs7bn in 2002 but was revised to Rs29.1bn in September 2016. As of last month, the project is reported to have achieved 81pc physical progress.
A consortium of international lenders was also funding the project.
Published in Dawn, September 27th, 2017