ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan said the construction of 10 dams and hydropower projects initiated by the present government in 2018 and to be completed by 2028 besides generating cheaper electricity will also make eight million acres of land cultivable and ensure food security.
Talking to newsmen here on the occasion of his visit to oversee the progress on the construction on Mohmand Dam, the prime minister regretted that despite having the large potential, no dams were constructed in Pakistan after the decade of 1960s or over the last 50 years.
The prime minister said that contrary to China which had constructed 80,000 dams including 5000 big dams, Pakistan had only two big dams. He said that ten dams including Bhasha and Dasu would be constructed under the vision of clean and green Pakistan and in view of climate change.
He said that with the growing population, the construction of dams and water reservoirs was a must to tackle the challenges of food security. Despite bumper wheat crop this year, the country will have to import the commodity to fulfill its demand, he remarked.
He further said that the construction of dams and water reservoirs was also important for meeting the demand for clean drinking water for major cities and urban centers like Lahore and Karachi. He said that with the construction of Mohmand Dam, Peshawar would get 300 million gallons of water.
Prime Minister Imran Khan, in response to a question, said that the previous rulers instead of initiating dams and hydropower projects opted to take an easy path of signing expensive power generation contracts with Independent Power Producers (IPPs) and made money through commissions and kickbacks.
He regretted that instead of exploiting Pakistan’s hydropower potential of producing 50,000 megawatts of cheaper electricity, they went for expensive power generation agreements with IPPs, a major cause of circular debt.
He also mentioned the clause of capacity payment in agreements with IPPs, which bounded the governments for payment to the private power generation companies even if the electricity produced by them was used or not, as one of the major reasons behind the growing circular debt.
He said the power sector circular debt, which was Rs480 billion in 2018, swelled to Rs900 billion at present and would reach Rs1455 billion in 2023. He added that the present government was trying to renegotiate the agreements with IPPs.
To a question about tourism promotion, PM Imran Khan said that with the current third wave of COVID-19, the government besides measures to check the spread of coronavirus in the country has also been trying to keep the wheels of the economy running and save the people from economic problems
He urged the masses to continue to follow COVID-19 SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) including the use of face masks to protect themselves from the deadly virus as well as country from economic effects.