Chinese company set to construct $2.7bn Kohala Hydropower Project: officials

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  • The construction period of over six years will provide thousands of job opportunities to people of AJK

ISLAMABAD: In another major development in Sino-Pak cooperative partnership in the energy sector, China Three Gorges Corporation (CTGC) is set to construct 1,124MW Kohala Hydropower Project along Neelum-Jhelum, officials revealed on Wednesday.

The Azad Jammu Kashmir area has recently witnessed a number of demonstrations and rallies, as the residents had been raising slogans like “Save River, Save Muzaffarabad” against the unacceptable environmental issues in Muzaffarabad city caused by the diversion of Neelum River after the recent commissioning of Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Project (NJHP).

The KHPP is the largest hydropower project being implemented by Kohala Hydro Company (Pvt) Ltd (KHCL) with a cost of around $2.7 billion. KHPP is being developed by the private sector under a build-own-operate-transfer (BOOT) model and it shall be transferred free of cost to the AJK government after 30 years.

According to sources, the construction period of 6.5 years will provide thousands of job opportunities to local people, water charges and taxes will provide a steady income for the AJK government and an elaborate community investment plan in this regard would certainly lead the way in nurturing a vibrant and thriving society.

CTGC, the parent company of KHCL and a world leader in hydropower development, possesses the most advanced and scientific ecological concept in hydropower project design and development in compliance with international standards. The company has dedicated itself to reducing the known environmental impact of all its projects by establishing effective environmental mitigation measures.

The Environmental & Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) Study of KHPP and the associated minimum water flow (Ecological-Flow) assessment of 30 m3/s were carried out by KHCL in a transparent manner through a world-renowned consultant.

It was also reviewed by the Private Power Infrastructure Board (PPIB) and finally approved by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of AJK government through an official NOC after holding two widely-participated public hearings (one at Sarran and one at Barsala), which was also verified by International Finance Corporation (IFC).

Furthermore, KHPP has three features that merit attention. Firstly, the E-Flow in Jehlum River is not less than 30 m3/s. Besides, the water flow is more than 30 m3/s in eight months out of the whole year after KHPP is completed.

Second, the average water flow throughout the year shall be more than 68 m3/s. During summer time, there will be two days for flushing with a discharge of more than 1,000 m3/s to keep the river clean and pollution free.

Thirdly, with fewer residents living along Jhelum River than those along with Neelum River, a minimum E-Flow of 30 m3/s shall be good enough to meet water supply requirements of Muzaffarabad city as well as dilution of municipal effluents drained by the city into the Jhelum River for the next more than 50 years.

Polls indicate that a large part of the residents of Muzaffarabad is supporting KHPP for providing various stimuli to the slow economy. In addition, the local people from villages Adam Seri, Sarran, Langla, Dhani Bakalan and Hattian Town have given their complete support to the Kohala project, hoping it will end poverty and bring prosperity in their areas.

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