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Pakistan pushes ahead with hydro in disputed areas

Pakistan is pushing ahead with comprehensive hydro project development in its ‘sensitive’ Northern Areas (NA) and Azad Kashmir (AK) territories. Sovereignty of all of NA and part of AK is disputed with India.

In Azad Kashmir, late last year, Pakistan commissioned the 30.4MW Jagran power station in the Neelum valley to serve the Muzaffarabad area. Muzaffarabad is located inside disputed territory and is AK’s capital. AK will this year begin construction of a 60MW project at Gulpure on the Poonch river in Kotli district.

Planning for both projects predates comprehensive surveys of both territories by the German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ) for Pakistan’s Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA).

In AK, the survey covered three major catchment areas and identified 5000MW of hydro potential. Feasibility studies of the main possibilities are now under way. Also a workshop, which was held on 20 May 2000 in Gilgit, NA, listed another five prime hydro power sites in the region. The sites are Naltar 22MW, Funder 87MW, Harcho 40MW, Basho 24MW and Dhuia 25MW. All are on the upper Indus river or its tributaries and would initially supply Gilgit (from Naltar) and upstream Skardu (from Basho). Astore will be served by Harcho located on a tributary downstream of Gilgit.

Apart from a few large projects, of which the 1400MW Ghazi Barotha run-of-river scheme (now under construction and scheduled for completion in 2003) is the latest example, Pakistan’s public sector power development has been constrained by lack of finance and limitations within WAPDA.