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attabad lake
File Photo: The Attabad Lake (Gulmit), Photo Credit: Kamran Ahmed

G-B’s hydropower potential remains untapped

ISLAMABAD: The hydro-power potential of Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) can change the fate of the country as it has an estimated capacity of thousands of megawatts which could be used to resolve the energy crisis, stated the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) on Saturday.

“Compared to thermal energy, hydel power would prove to be a cheaper source of energy in the long term and provide a permanent solution to the crisis,” said FPCCI President Abdul Rauf Alam, while talking to G-B Chief Minister Hafiz Hafeezur Rehman.

He said hydro energy was environment-friendly, economically viable and a low cost alternative which could save billions of dollars that are used to import fuel for power generation and as a result add to the cost of agricultural and industrial production.

“The potential of run-of-the-river projects in G-B is phenomenal; 7,400MW energy can be generated at a power plant in Bunji with two additional projects of 2,000MW each upstream from the location,” he added.

He urged the government as well as the private sector to exploit the enormous power production potential in G-B, which could help the country in not only overcoming the energy crisis, but also export electricity.

Furthermore, he said the 72,000 square miles area with around 1.3 million people had the potential for rapid development in sectors including tourism, hospitality, mining, food processing, dry fruits, gem and jewellery and farming.

“The number of tourists could be doubled with little effort, tax-free zones could attract investment and new policies should be devised to facilitate local and foreign investment,” he noted. He also expressed desire to establish an FPCCI regional office in G-B and looked forward to government’s cooperation. The G-B Chief Minister said the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would have a positive impact on every person in the country while it would transform the region into an investment haven.

While asking the private sector to take interest in investing, he said, “We are planning to establish an investment board, boost tourism, generate additional power and improve the law and order situation to trigger economic activities.” “Such measures will reduce poverty and raise people’s standard of living,” he added.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 8th, 2016.

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