ISLAMABAD: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has agreed to finance two hydropower projects in Gilgit Baltistan, official sources said.
The federal government was seeking a loan of US$50 million for the construction of 26 MW and 4 MW hydropower plants in Skurdu and Chilas respectively.
Official sources said the ADB has agreed to fund the two small and medium size plants and formal approval is expected by the end of March 2011.
A total of 93 hydropower stations ranging in capacity from 0.1 to 18MW, and a combined capacity of 77.4MW are currently in place in Gilgit-Baltistan, which has an estimated 40,000MW potential hydropower resources to be developed on rivers and streams.
Despite large energy resource potential, the region has the lowest rate of access to electricity supply. The Gilgit-Baltistan government faces financial constraints and is largely dependent on the federal government.
Sources said that the Northern Areas Water and Power Department (NAWAP) has initially identified six small to medium-sized hydropower projects. Based on assessments on technical, financial, social and environmental aspects, the hydropower project at Shegherthang (Skardu) and Chilas are considered to be the most suitable investment projects.
The extreme climate conditions in the region imply high energy demand in Gilgit-Baltistan. The dispersed population and mountainous terrain make it even difficult and expensive for the novice government to be supplied power through integrated or grid based networks.
Gilgit-Baltistan has an estimated population of over 1.8 million covering an area of 72,496 square kilometers and borders China, Afghanistan and the Indian-occupied Kashmir.
An ADB report stated that the two hydropower plants are run-of-the-river projects entailing minimal permanent land acquisition and resettlement impacts, affecting less than ten families in areas affected by weirs and intakes. No impacts will be caused by penstocks and power stations Published by HT Syndication with permission from Right Vision News.
Source of the news: http://www.hydroworld.com