PESHAWAR: The recently inaugurated 108 megawatts Golen Gol electricity project could finally afford small industries the edge they need to compete with larger industrial units and help bring about economic prosperity in the region.
The project, constructed on a tributary of the Mastunj River in Chitral, was inaugurated by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi — a day late owing to inclement weather. The plant is termed as a leap forward for the energy sector apart from bolstering trade and business sectors.
Economics expert Professor Dr Muhammad Naeem explained that uninterrupted power supply at an affordable rate was a major requirement for successful growth of industries and businesses.
“The project will also help the small industries to grow and increase their production, besides ending the monopoly of large industrial units,” Dr Naeem said.
He added that electricity and industrial growth were interlinked and the pressing problem of unemployment and inflation could only be addressed by encouraging industrial and business sectors in the country.
Dr Naeem hoped that the Rs29 billion Golen Gol project will usher in a new era of progress and prosperity in Chitral, apart from helping to stabilise the economy by providing low-cost and environment-friendly electricity to the people.
Sardar Aurangzaib Nalota, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) parliamentary leader in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Assembly, said that after the mega Lowari Tunnel project, Golen Gol was another mega project which the federal government had completed in record time.
He added that during the flash floods in Chitral in 2015, the 4.2 megawatts (MW) Reshun Hydro Power Project had been damaged, depriving locals of power. While the provincial government had in September 2016 decided to repair and restore the power project, the federal government had directed the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda)) to supply a portion of electricity generated from the first 36 MW unit of the project to Chitral to meet the energy needs of the region and to boost socio-economic development of backward and far-flung areas of K-P.
He said this quantum of electricity is three times more than the present requirements of Chitral, and will also be able to handle a surge in power demand in the future.
“The project will herald in a new era of progress and economic prosperity in Chitral, apart from helping stabilise the national economy by providing low-cost and environment-friendly electricity to the national grid,” Nalota said, adding that it will also help reduce pressure on the under-threat forests.
Taking a veiled swipe at detractors of his party, Nalota said that the ruling PML-N had come good on its promise of eliminating load-shedding and now “political orphans” were now shying away from the people.
“The mass protests and agitation on roads and siege of Peshawar Electric Supply Company (PESCO) offices was a routine matter against massive the load shedding in 2012-13,” he said adding that these outages were primarily due to the lacklustre policies of past regimes.
“We shall see no more demonstrations in future as additional energy sources will be added to the national grid after completion of ongoing mega energy projects in the country,” said Nalota.
He also criticised past regimes for pushing the country towards darkness noting that past governments had completely failed to address the grave problem of energy shortfall, resulting in growing unemployment, economic imbalance, poor economic growth and inflation.
Power generation at the first unit of Golen Goal Project — which started in January, was a significant step towards making the country self-sufficient in energy production.
The total installed generation capacity of Golen Gol is 108 MW distributed over three generating units with a capacity of 36MW each.
The second and the third units are expected to be commissioned in March and May respectively.
The project will provide 436 million units of electricity to the national grid every year with about Rs3.7billion benefits per annum.