KARACHI: The country’s apex trade body on Saturday said the hydropower potential of Gilgit-Baltistan, estimated at 50,000 megawatts, can resolve chronic energy crisis and save billions of dollar currently spent on oil import for power generation.
President Abdul Rauf Alam of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), in a statement, said thermal energy is costly, while hydropower offers the cheapest source of energy for the long-term and permanent solution to the energy crisis.
Alam was talking to Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Hafiz Hafeezur Rehman. FPCCI Vice President Johar Ali Raki and others were also present on the occasion.
The FPCCI chief said hydro energy is environment-friendly, low-cost and economically viable and it can save billions of dollars required to import fuel for power generation that results in costly agricultural and industrial production.
The potential of run-of-the-river projects in Gilgit Baltistan is phenomenal. Total 7,400 megawatts can be generated at a power plant in Bunji with two additional projects of 2,000 megawatts each upstream from this location, he added.
Alam said the government, as well as the private sector, must exploit the enormous power production potential in GB, which can help us overcome the energy crisis as well as export electricity.
Moreover, the 72,000 square miles area with around 1.3 million people has the potential for rapid development based on tourism, hospitality, mining, food processing, dry fruits, gems and jewellery and farming, he said.
The business leader said the number of tourists can be doubled with a little effort. Establishing tax free zones can attract investment and new policies should be evolved to facilitate local and foreign investments.
Alam said the FPCCI wants to set up a regional office in Gilgit-Baltistan for which it is looking forward for cooperation by the government.
The Gilgit-Baltistan chief minister said the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will have a positive impact on every person in the country, while it will transform Gilgit-Baltistan into an investment haven.
The minister asked the private sector to take interest in investment in the region. He said it will be provided with all the possible facilities.
“We are planning to establish an investment board, boost tourism, generate additional power, and improve law and order situation to trigger economic activities which will reduce poverty and raise standard of living of people,” he said.