ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan assured on Thursday of expeditious progress on projects falling under the umbrella of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), despite some relevant departments having faced difficulties due to the Covid-19 pandemic in the past.
The prime minister, who was addressing a ceremony held in Islamabad to mark the inauguration of a 600 kilovolt (kV) transmission line running between Matiari and Lahore, pointed out that the pandemic had stalled communications in many areas, led to travel bans and affected supply chains across the world.
Consequently, difficulties were also faced in the execution of CPEC projects, PM Imran explained, adding that the setback, however, was “temporary”.
He expressed the hope that with vaccinations against the coronavirus picking up pace across the world, the coming waves of the pandemic would not be as intense as earlier ones and in turn, the work on CPEC projects would not be affected but expedited instead.
Imran Khan on Thursday said the operationalization of the country’s first-ever transmission line of 660 KV High-Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) would reduce line losses from 17 to four percent, resulting in availability of cheap electricity for consumers.
Addressing at the inauguration of 886-kilometre-long Matiari-Lahore HVDC with a capacity of 4,400 megawatt power generation under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the prime minister said the project would prove as a “leading energy transmission artery from the country’s south to north”.
Imran Khan said the significant reduction of line losses would save billions and also lessen the burden on common man paying the expensive electricity bills.
He regretted that the previous government did not carry out on-ground work on the Matiari-Lahore project signed with China in 2013, which made the public immensely suffer the power load-shedding.
The prime minister expressed satisfaction that his government after assumption of power in 2018 carried out the construction work of the state-of-the-art Matiari-Lahore project at full pace and completed it despite the pandemic.
Besides energy, he said, other CPEC projects under Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative relating to industrialization and innovation in agriculture would be launched in the next phase.
He hoped that completion of CPEC projects would lead to wealth creation and help the government pay off heavy debt.
Federal Minister for Energy Hammad Azhar said the project, which was made operational after testing it in three phases including the peak seasons, would help in removing the transmission bottleneck.
He said the CPEC power projects were the important pillars of Pakistan’s economic system and were acting as “smart and efficient sources” of green energy generation.
Chinese Ambassador Nong Rong terming the operationalization of 660 KV HVDC project a milestone said Pakistan’s power grid system had now entered a new era of development and upgradation.
He said cheap electricity was key to socio-economic development of Pakistan and vowed that China would continue to extend its support in this regard.
He mentioned that the 886 km transmission line would go along 510 km of motorway and create around 70,000 jobs in the country.
President State Grid Corporation of China Xin Baoan in his video-link address to the ceremony said the 70th anniversary of Pak-China friendship was marked by cooperation at diverse levels for the benefit of their people.
He said his corporation would work closely with its local counterparts in Pakistan on projects of energy cooperation.
The HVDC transmission line project will evacuate power from the upcoming coal-based thermal power plants located at Port Qasim, Hub and Thar.
The National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC) carried out a study through an international consultant which proposed HVDC technology for transfer of bulk power for its cost-effectiveness and lower line losses. Moreover, the requirement of ‘right of way’ for HVDC is less than High-Voltage Alternate Current (HVAC) lines.
The HVDC line Matiari in Sindh to Lahore in Punjab will have 1973 towers and two converter stations with AC substations, one each at Matiari and Lahore.
It will have two grounding stations at 50-80 km from Matiari and Lahore converter stations and three repeater stations along the route of line to boost telecommunication signals, each at Salehpat, Rahiim Yar Khan, Hasilpur.