BEIJING - The recently signed agreements in Pakistan for hydropower projects in connection with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) marked the beginning of a mature new phase for the program, which is under the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), according to Chinese experts. The concessional agreement for the 700.7-MW Azad Pattan Hydropower Project was signed last week, a breakthrough for the implementation of the project, according to China Gezhouba Group, the Chinese investor in the project. With a total investment of $1.54 billion, the construction period of the project was expected to be 69 months and the hydropower plant would generate some 3.265 billion units of clean energy per year and provide relief from water shortages, Global Times reported. Prior to the agreement, another deal on hydropower - the largest energy sector investment in the history of Pakistan - was signed in June. The project will be implemented by China Three Gorges Corp through its subsidiary under the framework of the CPEC. Compared with coal power and thermal power, the hydropower projects signed with the two Chinese firms will help reduce Pakistan's over-dependence on imported fuel, save costs, and provide green energy to help improve its environment, he noted. From the perspective of labor and employment, since the start of the CPEC, more than 75,000 direct jobs and 200,000 indirect jobs have been created for Pakistani people, increasing the average income in Pakistan by 23 percent, data showed.