TARBELA: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif Wednesday performed the ground-breaking of the $928 million 4th expansion of the Tarbela Dam Hydropower Project, designed to increase production of low-cost electricity to meet country’s growing energy needs.
The project will be completed with $840 million financial assistance by the World Bank and will increase the dam’s ability by 1,410 megawatts, against its current capacity of 3,478 megawatts. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif unveiled a plaque marking the historic moment and said that Tarbela-IV Extension Hydropower Project heralds the beginning of a new era of socio-economic development in the country. He said that it was also a manifestation of the government’s resolve to provide relief to the common man and boost economic development through addition of low-cost electricity.
The prime minister said the worst energy outages, faced by the people of country for last many years, were the result of sustained policy neglect. He said the successive governments could not address the imperative of increasing power generation in view of escalating needs of economy and population growth. He said that the credit for putting together the first-ever holistic National Power Policy goes to the present democratic government, which had been prepared in consultation of federating units and other stakeholders.
The government, he said, was very clear that the country cannot be put on the trajectory of socio-economic development unless development of most efficient and consumer-centric low-cost power generation was ensured. Prime Minister Nawaz said that in order to resolve the crisis, the Ministry of Water and Power, through WAPDA, was working on a number of water and hydropower projects under medium and long-term plans. On completion, these projects will not only contribute thousands of megawatt of low-cost electricity but also store millions of acres feet of water.
The phased induction of hydropower into the system would reduce the dependence on costly thermal power which will provide a substantial relief to the masses, he added. About other major hydropower initiatives of the government, the prime minister mentioned Diamer-Bhasha Dam (4500MW), Dasu (4320MW) and Bunji (7100MW) and stated that he had already directed the Ministry of Water and Power and other organisations concerned to accelerate these projects. WAPDA Chairman Syed Raghib Ali Shah briefed the premier about the project and highlighted its salient features.
Prime Minister Nawaz was informed that the capacity of Tarbela Hydel Power Station would increase from existing 3478MW to 4888MW after the completion of the 4th Extension. The project, thus, would add 1410 MW of cheap hydropower to the national grid. On this occasion, he appreciated the World Bank for financial assistance of $840 million for construction of this project. The prime minister was briefed that the Tarbela 4th Extension Project will contribute about four billion units of low-cost and environment-friendly electricity to the national power system every year.
Annual monetary benefit of the project has been estimated to be Rs 30 billion and it will pay back the cost incurred on its construction in a short span of three years. He was told that the project will be completed in a period of three and a half years. The prime minister said that the delays, over-costing and escalations would not be tolerated in the project. He was told that as per initial study, Tarbela-V Extension Project will generate 1320 MW electricity and Austrian government has shown its keen interest to finance the project. The prime minister directed the Ministry of Water and Power to take up feasibility of Tarbela-V Extension Project and both Tarbela IV and V projects be started simultaneously.
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