PESHAWAR - The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, in principle, has approved a policy of rapid industrialisation in the province, which is based on fully exploiting the rich natural resource endowment.

The policy is a paradigmatic shift from the vicious circle of geographical disadvantageous location of the province to the exploitation of its abundant natural resources, particularly energy. Under the policy, industrialists will be offered cheap electricity near the numerous hydropower generation spots not only just identified but many completed or near completion.

Such inexpensive electricity will also be offered to the investors near the gas extracting spots, which can be easily generated thereby. One of such important projects is the construction of additional Pehur project which will be completed soon. The project will provide electricity to the industries of Gadoon Amazai Industrial Estate at cheap and concessional rates.

This is nevertheless a blessing for the investors who have passed through turbulent periods during the last three decades. Another such local project is Dargai’s Malakand-111, hydropower generation plant, which could provide inexpensive electricity to the investors. The construction of Malakand-111 hydropower project of 81mw-capacity was undertaken at Dargai almost eight years ago at a cost of $80 million.

Commissioned in 2009, the power station generates 553 million kWh electricity annually. For the time being, its electricity is sold to Wapda at cheap rates, which is resold to the public at much higher rates. But still the agreement with Wapda is to be studied for revival.

At a conservative estimate, there are 13 hydropower stations in the province, other than Wapda power stations with total 3,762mw capacity, including Tarbela and Warsak, which are categorised as medium, small and mini of cumulative capacity of 86mw. Other hydropower stations being operated by the provincial government are Pehur (Swabi) of 18mw, Reshun (Chitral) of 4.2mw and Shishi (Chitral) of 1.8mw capacity.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has allocated a sum of Rs 373 million in its budget for the year 2013-14 for the 12 new powers generation schemes in the province. Of them five schemes will be completed during the current financial year.

There are 13 under-construction Wapda projects of cumulative capacity of 8,152mw in the province. There are another eight IPP projects of various capacities ranging from 132mw to 840mw, being implemented by the private sector under the Power Policy 2002.

KPK has launched an ambitious programme for generating 2,036mw electricity to be implemented phase-wise. Most of these are run-of-the-river type projects with high, medium and small water heads, some with small daily water storage.

While the province has already established an independent organisation PHYDO which has focused on hydropower generation and, of late, from the oil and gas having been explored in the southern districts of the province a few years ago. It was also, in principle, approved as part of the said policy that the province should explore the establishment of such an independent and autonomous power distribution organisation which would enable the provincial government to ensure just and direct distribution of power so generated among both the domestic consumers and industrialists. Therefore, the offer of cheap electricity will not only be limited to hydropower generating areas but also from gas too, which is in abundance in the southern and backward districts of the province.

The meeting at which these and many other policy decisions were made also took stock of the situation that the future technology requirements were seldom studied in Pakistan, which leads to the future losses of the investors because the installed machineries are constantly redundant, so experts and specialists will also be invited to give a concrete shape to the rapid industrialisation of the province.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Secretary Muhammad Shahzad Arbab presided over the meeting which, besides others, was attended by PTI leader Jahangir Tarin and former Secretary Industries Salman Ghani.

Earlier, the participants were briefed in detail on the establishment, activities and contribution of Sunder industrial estates to the industrialisation of Punjab.

The participants also proposed that in view of the changing scenario, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa should focus on the development of economic zones in various parts of the province.