Islamabad: Sardar Masood Khan, President of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, has said that it is our goal to make Azad Kashmir self-sufficient in energy. The President Azad Jammu and Kashmir made these assertions while ad dressing concluding session of 9th Power Generation Conference in Islamabad. ”Power generation in AJK directly helps Pakistan redress its energy deficit and contribute to its economic development. In the years to come, it will turn around Pakistan’s energy sector, rejuvenate its industry and help attract private investment.” he said.
He told the audience that Azad Kashmir’s hydropower potential has been estimated at 8,000 MW in the medium term and 18,000 MW in the long term. ” This is neither implausible nor a pipe dream. Progress towards these goals is taking place. ” He said
The President AJK while highlighting the present capacity of power in AJK has said, “Currently, Azad Kashmir produces roughly 1,500 MW electricity through hydropower.” Mangla Dam’s installed capacity is 1,150 MW. The remaining power is being generated by small and micro dams. AJK’s total requirement for household, commercial and industrial usage is 400 MW. AJK thus makes a net contribution of 1,100 MW to Pakistan’s national grid, as of today.” he said
The President urged that six issues relating to energy projects in Azad should be addressed on priority basis:
One, water usage charges, currently being paid to Azad Kashmir at the rate of Rs 0.15 /KWs, need to be increased to Rs. 1.10/KWs to bring them at par with KPK.
Two, the issue regarding payment to AJK Government of GST being charged by WAPDA for electricity should be resolved. The matter is sub judice.
Three, residual and emerging problems of displacement, such as relating to Mangla and new dams being built, should be addressed.
Four, separate and substantial amounts should be allocated for upgrading and building a modern transmission system in Azad Kashmir.
Five, agreements on new dams should be reached without delay to settle matters regarding tariff determination, power purchase agreements and sovereign guarantees, inasmuch as they relate to Azad Kashmir.
Six, involve the private sector and leverage its strengths to supply electricity to domestic and industrial users.
Sardar Masood Khan told that Azad Kashmir Government had taken up these issues with the Government of Pakistan and expressed optimism that they would be able to resolve it soon.
The President said that Azad Kashmir will start up an industrial zone under CPEC in Mirpur. It is an ambitious enterprise – one that would require assured supply of electricity round the clock. Again under CPEC, an expressway would be built from Mansehra to Muzaffarabad to Mirpur to link Azad Kashmir to CPEC. This too would require uninterrupted supply of electricity for the expressway and businesses around it. Despite this growth in Azad Kashmir’s cumulative demand for electricity, it would have large surpluses ranging from 6,000 to 8,000 MW that AJK would be able to contribute to Pakistan.
Sardar Masood Khan also highlighted the efforts of AJK government to mitigate and address the social and environmental impact in the light of AJK laws, laws adapted from Pakistan, and international conventions, as well as guidelines provided by international agencies and multilateral development banks. The highest priority, he said is being given to land compensation, settlement of displaced persons, and environmental protection, with a special focus on cultural and ecological well-being of local communities and preservation of wildlife sanctuaries and biodiversity reserves.