ISLAMABAD -  The Private Power and Infrastructure Board (PPIB) Tuesday approved issuance of letters of interests (LoIs) for two hydropower projects, having combined generation capacity of 408 megawatts, in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJ&K) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).

The decisions were taken in the 107th meeting of the PPIB, which was presided over by the Minister for Water and Power, Khawaja Muhammad Asif.

The LoIs were issued to 350 MW Athmuqam hydropower project at Neelum River, in Azad Kashmir to the consortium led by Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co Ltd and 58 MW Turtonas-Uzghor Hydropower Project at Golen Gol River, District Chitral to the consortium of Sinohydro Corporation Ltd, China & Sachal Engineering Works (Pvt), Ltd. Pakistan.

The board also approved solicitation of proposals through local and international media for another two hydropower projects in the private sector, which are 197 MW Kalam-Asrit and 101 MW Gabral-Kalam located in district Swat, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa under the Power Generation Policy 2015.

In order to cut the power generation cost and to make it affordable to the masses, coal, hydro and R-LNG are key resources under the present scenario. In order to make electricity affordable, the government has decided to replace imported fuels with indigenous resources like hydro and Thar Coal, and to focus on arranging additional megawatts to bridge the demand-supply gap through these resources.

In order to utilize coal deposits at Thar for power generation, the Board appreciated and allowed conversion of 660 MW Lucky and 350 MW Siddiquesons Power from imported coal to Thar coal. This will not only save huge foreign exchange from spending on imported coal but will provide affordable power to the masses.

Managing Director PPIB Shah Jahan Mirza briefed the Board on current status of various ongoing power generation projects being handled by PPIB with particular emphasis on projects under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). MD PPIB briefed the Board that projects investors are being facilitated to meet their commercial operation dates by 2017-2018. The Board endorsed signing of implementation agreement and supplemental agreement to 720 MW Karot Hydropower Project.

R-LNG based power generation projects were also discussed in the meeting with particular focus on 1180 MW project being processed at Bhikki by Quaid-e-Azam Thermal Power Private Limited (QATPL). The Board also endorsed signing of Implementation Agreement executed by the PPIB with QATPL.

The minister appreciated the contribution of private sector in development of Pakistan’s power sector and reiterated that current government is focused on tackling electricity crisis with affordable means to provide real benefit to the nation. In current situation, role of CPEC is vital as thousands of megawatts will be available by 2018 which will bring an end to long lasting electricity crisis in the country. Currently PPIB is facilitating nine projects of over 9000 MW under the fate-changer CPEC initiative.