MIRPUR (AJK) - The United States (US) Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez visited Mangla Power Station at Mangla near here late Thursday to review the contribution US assistance for help Pakistan get rid of energy crisis.

US Ambassador in Pakistan Richard Olson also accompanied him during the visit, a spokesman of Wapda told this correspondent on Friday.

This visit was conducted in the context of the US commitment to providing financial assistance up to $150 million for refurbishment and up-gradation of Mangla Hydel Power Station, he said.

Speaking on the occasion, Senator Menendez stated that, “the American people are proud to support large-scale energy projects here in Pakistan that will add 900 megawatts of power to the national grid by the end of this year, enough power to supply electricity to more than two million households across the country.”

Earlier, Federal Secretary Water and Power Nargis Sethi, thanking the US for the support in power sector, informed Senator Menendez of the power situation in Pakistan and the measures being taken to overcome electricity shortage and improve the ratio of low-cost electricity in the national grid.

In his welcome remarks, Wapda Chairman Syed Raghib Shah thanked the US for financial assistance for various projects including rehabilitation of Tarbela Hydel Power Station, Gomal Zam Dam, Satpara Dam and up-gradation of Mangla Hydel Power Station. Appreciating the support being provided by the US to help arrange funds for Diamer Basha Dam Project, he expressed the hope that this cooperation will be further enhanced in the days to come. He said that the Wapda was executing a number of projects to cope with the rising need for electricity and water in the country. In addition to utilizing local financial resources, foreign funding is also vital for completion of these projects, he added.

Dilating upon the details of Mangla Power Station, the Wapda Chairman apprised the guests that the authority had undertaken refurbishment and up-gradation of the power house in view of aging factor of the generating equipment, and availability of additional water due to the raising of Mangla Dam. This will not only help rehabilitate the power house but also increase its generation capacity from 1,000 MW to 1,310 MW, resulting in average annual increment of 1632 million units low-cost hydel electricity to the national grid. The task, currently underway, will be completed in phases with an estimated cost of $400 million, he added.

Earlier, US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Senator Menendez visited various components of Mangla Power House and the Dam.