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25 April 2007

Water power in Pakistan

Winner of the Energy Institute’s International Platinum Award 2006, the Ghazi-Barotha hydropower plant is destined to provide an example for future projects in Pakistan and beyond, not least for its focus on the social and economic needs of village communities.

Quantities of indigenous oil, gas or fossil fuels in Pakistan are limited, so expansion in generating capacity must be based on hydropower to minimise fuel imports. The 1450MW Ghazi-Barotha project on the Indus River fulfils this vital need. From the outset, the national utility Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) placed great emphasis on the rural community. Consultative meetings were held with public representatives, those affected by the project and non-governmental organisations in order to address adverse environmental and social effects. Because the power channel location was carefully chosen to run through the foothills avoiding villages, only 110 families had to be relocated. Affected families received money to build new houses in three specially developed villages.

Pakistan has over 600km of link canals conveying water from one river to another and in most cases excavation material was dumped on the banks, creating wastelands. For the first time in Pakistan, material excavated on the project was used to create spoil banks topped with cultivatable soil to act as farmland. WAPDA also plans to provide tubewells for irrigation.

Another innovation enabled the size of the power channel to be kept to a minimum. Water flows from this into the forebay of the power complex and is stored in headponds with a combined capacity of 25.5 million m3. The ponds augment the 1600 cumecs of discharge from the channel to 2200 cumecs, thereby providing enough water to operate the power plant (five 290MW turbine generators) at its full capacity every day throughout the peak demand period.
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