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     September 13,  2015

Detail

 


The liquid gold goes waste

The district of Chitral in the extreme north of KPK hems in an area of 14850 sq. km with a population that is now estimated to be half a million. The district is overwhelmingly occupied by mountain ranges with confusing ramifications but the section of the district called upper Chitral is finely demarcated by sierras of Hindu Kush over 6000m high that make a wonderful chain branching off at the southern tip of Pamir plateau. In terms of geography all peaks above 4500m are glaciated and snowline in this region is above that height which means that the borders of the whole of upper Chitral are glaciated from which drain down the numerous streams that debouch themselves into the main Chitral river. These streams are countless and the glaciers are not measureable in normal terms except a few main ones viz. Chiantar glacier, upper Terich glacier, Darband glacier, Roshgol glacier, Ziwar glacier, Ujnu gol glacier which are counted the more important sources of Chitral river. The striking thing about it is that the Chitral river emanates within the boundaries of the Chitral district and no stream from across the border enters into Chitrali territory. The volume of the Chitral river is recorded in summer above 40000 cusecs at Chitral bridge beside the streams that join it below that point.

This great volume of water has not been tapped yet except the one hydal power house at Chitral built in the 1970s and the Reshun hydal power house built only two decades ago which is now under the debris of the disastrous floods. It show that the site selection by the experts concerned for the Reshun power House was not the right site and was based on assumptions not on ground realities. It was not according to the rules of indigenous knowledge that the local elders hold but by engineers who could not foresee the summer flush floods that have time and again devastated hamlets and infrastructure. The site of the hydal power station at Chitral mentioned above was better but its architects also did not envisage the future needs of the flood of population that was statistically alarming at that time but this power house was to meet the demands of the enthusiastic masses who came to welcome the leader who listened to their demands sympathetically; was just to satisfy the demand of the public by a political demagogue who bewitched masses by his speeches and charismatic personality. This powerhouse should have the capacity to be upgraded but was ignored. In fact in the 80s this country was ruled by a dictator who was implicated in the Afghan war and never thought of developmental works in the country including power sector.

The irony is that the following short term elected governments with heavy mandates lacked the vision to put the country on the road to progress but remained at loggerhead to snatch power and to belittle each other. No mega project was initiated in the country, let alone Chitral which carried no importance for leaders from distant parts of the country. Power sector was neglected badly and hydal power projects- the cheapest and readily available source- was disregarded and power was purchased from IPPs at very high cost. It was such a foolish decision that began to show its grave face in the following years. They signed MoUs with neighbouring Tajikstan for import of electricity over the HinduKush range at very high cost instead of building hydal power houses from our own rivers. Import of electricity is an option for those countries who have no rivers in their countries like many countries in the middle east where there are few rivers but for a country like Pakistan that has got a generous gift of huge volume of rivers that flow round the year, the idea of importing hydal electricity is a matter of shame. Our political leadership claimed to bring investors into the country and the idea was so ridiculous that verged on stupidity on the following grounds:

1. Facing serious law and order situation in the country.
2. Terrorism was getting roots in the remoter parts as well as in the cities.
3. Power shortage was already deteriorating and load shedding had become a routine that discouraged every citizen of the country let alone any Foreign potential Investor- an investor is always a shrewd businessman and he know s the tricks of making money and sounds the political stability of a country before deciding to invest there and he cannot be befooled by empty slogans. In a scenario like that who will invest in a country that has no minimum congenial environment and no safety of life as abductions for ransom had become rampant.

As far Chitral is concerned it did not have anyone of those curses mentioned above and deserved to be given priority for hydal power generation, even if the provincial govt. was not financially stable than it could reach China, hold negotiations and hand over the hydal potential of Chitral to China to build as much hydal power houses as she likes out of the huge potential that lurks in the shadows of the HinduKush range in the Chitral side. It could generate over 15000 mega watt of hydal power at cheap cost on equal share basis. The initial report on hydal capacity of Chitral district alone by GTZ [ amounting to over 50 sites] were not the whole capacity. More sites were identified later. Beside the main river its tributaries such as Lotkuh river, Yarkhun river, Laspur river, Terich river, Kalash valley river, Shishi river have numerous manageable sites for hydal generation by construction of 1-2 km channels and that is neither time consuming nor expensive. It needs will power, devotion and dedication , mere lip-service does not work and it can lead to public humiliation. Our KPK govt. must approach the Chinese energy Sector and hand over the Chitral rivers to Chinese investors in hydal energy sector under an agreement according to the demand of the investors and share the benefits instead of sitting idle for a miracle to happen and that never does. God helps those who help themselves.


Prof. Rahmat Karim Baig
Chitral
 

 

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