LAHORE - A meeting of the presidents and senior office holders of eight leading banks of the country with the Wapda authorities was held at the authority head office on Friday. Wapda Chairman Zafar Mahmood chaired and the representatives of National Bank, Habib Bank, United Bank, Allied Bank, MCB Bank, Dubai Islamic Bank, Meezan Bank and Standard Chartered Bank, Ministry of Finance and the State Bank attended the meeting on invitation of Wapda.

The purpose of holding the meeting was to explore ways and means for arrangement of local finances for construction of Dasu Hydropower Project (Stage-1). Though World Bank is providing partial financing for the project in addition to using its guarantee to generate resources from the commercial market, Wapda, on its part, is endeavouring to generate $1.28 billion from the local market.

Speaking on the occasion, Wapda Chairman said that since its establishment as an independent Authority in 1958, Wapda has relied on the international financing institutions and multilateral donors for construction of its mega hydel projects in the country. He said that it is for the first time that innovative mode of financing is being explored for construction of Dasu project by involving the local financial market. He said that it is encouraging that the commercial banks are showing keen interest in partnering with Wapda to finance Dasu Hydropower Project.

The Chairman said that Wapda as an entity should be evaluated on the basis of its huge asset base, better loan repayment history and lucrative investment opportunities based on the Dasu project feasibility report as its strong credentials.

The representatives of the leading banks appreciated Wapda for its initiative to involve local banks as development partners. They said that they would consider various options to finance Dasu Hydropower Project.

Three hydel power stations deliver 110.19m units to national grid:  Three hydel power stations operated by Wapda delivered 110.190 million units of hydel electricity to the national grid on Friday as compared to 64.037 million units generated on the same day last year thereby registering an increased contribution of 46.153 million units to the system. This increase in hydel power generation is the result of increased water releases from the dams by IRSA.

According to the data, Tarbela hydel power station generated 43.809 million units compared to 17.882 million units on the same day last year. Ghazi Barotha hydel power station produced 25.740 million units compared to 14.455 million units on the same day last year, whereas 24 million units were generated by Mangla hydel power station compared to 15.760 million units on the same day last year.

It is important to mention that the basic purpose of dams is to provide water for agriculture on the requirements of the provinces, whereas hydel electricity generation is merely the by-product. The electricity generation from hydel power stations depends upon water indents of IRSA. This increased quantum of electricity was produced today due to increased water outflows on the same day last year.

The hydel power generation capacity of WAPDA stands at about 7000 megawatt (MW) - about one third of the total installed capacity in the country. It is a matter of great satisfaction that despite some of hydel power stations being as old as 50 years, the generation capacity of WAPDA has stayed intact due to proper maintenance and efficient operation of these stations.

WAPDA contributes more than 30 billion units of low-cost electricity to the national grid per annum. The role being played by hydel electricity in keeping the power tariff at present level can be measured from the fact that according to data of January 2015, per unit generation cost of hydel electricity is merely Rs. 2.62 on an average as compared to Rs.7.43 for gas, Rs.12.91 for coal, Rs.12.98 for baggase, Rs.17.58 for furnace oil, Rs.23.43 for diesel (HSD), Rs. 5.98 for nuclear and Rs.11.62 for wind. As per data the basket price of electricity in the system stands at Rs.10.03 per unit.