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PM-inaugurated power project launched again

ISLAMABAD: The government’s ribbon-cutting temptation is leading to multiple high-profile publicity events for pre-mature projects.

More than 15 months after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif performed a glamorous groundbreaking ceremony of the 102MW Gulpur hydropower project, the Private Power and Infrastructure Board on Friday announced the foundation stone-laying ceremony of the same project.

In a statement, the PPIB said its managing director Shah Jahan Mirza was chief guest at Thursday’s ceremony on behalf of the government.

“The mission of getting affordable, clean and reliable electricity met another success on Jan 19, 2017, when the 102MW Gulpur hydropower project entered into the construction phase of its major structures,” it said. When contacted, Water and Power Sec­re­­tary Mohammad Younas Dagha declined to comment on the issue, saying he was not aware of the development.

A senior official of the ministry said there appeared to be no difference bet­ween the groundbreaking and foundation stone-laying events and the PPIB should not have arranged the function when the prime minister had himself graced the event of the same project.

The official, however, could not explain why it took 15 months to start construction activities on the project after its groundbreaking that too after the prime minister was involved in its initiation.

He confirmed that the prime minister had performed the groundbreaking of the project on Oct 15, 2015, and its pictures and announcement were still on the PPIB website. He, however, said that since it was a small project, it was not on the active watch list of the ministry.

Informed sources said the prime minister was also taken to hold similar inaugural functions of a few other power projects prematurely, including the controversial Nandipur, Uch-II and Guddu, which later embarrassed the government. They said the prime minister had performed the groundbreaking of the Gulpur project before its financial close and hence the delays.

The PPIB statement said the foundation stone-laying function of the Gulpur project was attended by senior officials of sponsoring companies, representatives of lenders and government officials.

Addressing the participants, the PPIB managing director said it was the third hydropower project in Azad Kashmir being established by the private sector with the facilitation and support of the PPIB and the government and emphasised on early its completion.

The $317 million run-of-the-river Gulpur hydropower project is located in Kotli district, about five kilometres south of Kotli town on Poonch River, a tributary of Jhelum River.

Renowned Korean companies Korea Energy (KOEN), DAELIM and LOTTE are among the sponsors, while its lenders include the Asian Development Bank, the International Finance Corporation and the Export-Import Bank of Korean.

Mira Power Limited, a subsidiary of Korea South East Power Company Lim­i­ted, has been established to design, construct, operate and maintain the project.

The project is planned to be completed by October 2019 and will bring a foreign direct investment of $317m to the country. It has the ability to add 475 million units of affordable, clean and reliable electricity to the national grid per year.

The AJK government will also receive Rs70m annually on account of water use charges and after completion of 30 years of operation on a build-own-operate-transfer basis under the power policy 2002, the project will be transferred to the government free of cost.

Courtesy : Dawn News



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