ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, while chairing a high-level meeting Wednesday, directed the quarters concerned to accelerate the pace of work on a number of hydel power projects in AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan to meet the rising energy needs.

The prime minister said all the relevant ministries should complete the task on their part with a focus to give priority to the power projects with a capacity below 50 MW. Gilani directed the Ministry of Water and Power secretary to get Skardu and Gilgit connected to the national grid, which would smooth the supply of electricity to a great deal. Wapda Chairman Shakil Durrani told the meeting that Skardu and Gilgit would be connected to the National Grid would be completed with an estimated foreign funding of $100m from the French Agency for Development. The GB chief secretary  said there were 108 projects in the region with 137MW of power generation capacity which would be realised by 2016 with an estimated cost of Rs 137 billion.

In a presentation, the Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan federal secretary said that there were seven on-going projects in AJK which would produce 11 MW of electricity and the projects would be completed by the end of this year.

He further said the Federal PSDP included three hydel power projects to be completed with an estimated cost of Rs 9.9 billion by 2016 producing 55 MW of electricity.

The secretary further said that the private sector had taken up two projects at Bong (Mirpur) and Pathrand (Muzaffarabad), which would produce 231 MW of electricity, adding that there was a very encouraging response from the investors.

Federal Minister Mian Manzoor Ahmad Wattoo, Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Minister for Water and Power Syed Naveed Qamar, Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Syed Mehdi Shah and top bureaucrats attended the meeting.