ISLAMABAD - The Private Power and Infrastructure Board Tuesday allowed one year extension in the financial close date of 1,124MW Kohala Hydropower Project of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and  asked the government of AJ&K and PPIB to expeditiously resolve all pending issues of this project on priority basis.

While presiding the 122nd meeting of the Private Power and Infrastructure Board, Federal Minister for Power Omar Ayub Khan said that the present government is working on number of initiatives to generate indigenous, reliable and affordable electricity through different means to meet ever-growing energy needs of the country.

Various agendas were presented before the Board seeking necessary guidance and approvals by PPIB for smooth development of hydro and coal based power generation projects. In this regard, the Board agreed to allow one year extension in the financial close date of 1124 MW Kohala Hydropower Project considering that it is the largest hydropower project and so far the single largest investment in any IPP in Pakistan/AJ&K. Further, the project is also a vital component of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and has achieved significant progress so far. The Board gave advice to government of AJ&K and PPIB to expeditiously resolve all pending issues of this project on priority basis.

Kohala Hydro Project costing $2.5 billion project is the largest direct investment under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and its financial close was due in December 2018, but due to the protests of locals against various issues in the projects the financial close was delayed. The locals were protesting for the designs of the reservoir, land acquisition and the provision of the basic necessities to the locals.

The locals are also demanding the installation of treatment plant in the area, said the source.

The Board also considered proposal for processing of small hydropower projects that have been issued letter of interest (LoI) by provinces/AJ&K/GB and referred to PPIB for subsequent handling under Tripartite Letter of Support (TLOS) regime as envisaged under Power Generation Policy 2015. In this regard a uniform and transparent criteria was approved by the Board to apply on all small HPPs of provinces/AJK cross the Board. The Board also advised the NTDC and CPPAG for formulating proper planning for the purchase of power and power evacuation from indigenous and cheap hydropower resources and other renewable sources. The Board asked NTDC and CCPAG to provide the details regarding the power purchase agreements with the small hydropowers generation units in the next meeting.

Various other projects being processed by PPIB were discussed during the meeting. In order to facilitate indigenous fuel based projects, the Board approved extension in the financial close deadline of 330 MW Siddiqsons Energy Limited and 330 MW Thar Energy Limited maintaining the commercial operations date for these projects. The addition of 660 MW of affordable and reliable electricity will energise the national grid in true sense while it will also be instrumental in further developing the Thar coal for power generation, saving of millions of dollars of foreign exchange annually, generate economic activities as well as employment opportunities for the people of the remote area of Thar and will also entail improvement of the basic infrastructure in the vicinity of these projects under Corporate Social Responsibility.

The minister said that present government is working on economic revival of country for which electricity is the most important sector.