Azad Pattan hydel project

• Pakistan and China signed an agreement for the 700 MW Azad Pattan hydel power project on the Jhelum river in Sudhoti district of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK).

• The $ 1.5-billion project is the second power project under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), for which an agreement has been signed in the last two months. The first agreement, for the 1,100 MW Kohala project, was signed on June 23. That project, worth $ 2.3 billion, too will come up on the Jhelum near Muzaffarabad.

Azad Pattan hydel project:

• According to the EPC (Engineer, Procurement and Contract) agreement, the project is a run-of-the-river scheme with a
reservoir located near Muslimabad village, 7 km upstream from the Azad Pattan bridge, in district Sudhnoti, one of the eight districts of PoK.

• According to the details in the 2017 agreement, the construction of the project, which was first proposed in 2002, will take 69 months, and the project will be commissioned by 2024. The project will comprise a 90-metre-high dam, with a 3.8 sq km reservoir.

• Gezhouba set up a special purpose joint venture with the Laraib Group, a Pakistani renewable energy developer.

• The JV is called Azad Pattan Power Private Ltd Corporation, and it will develop the project on the ‘build, own, operate, transfer’ (BOOT) model. The project will be transferred to the government of Pakistan after 30 years.

• The Azad Pattan project is one of five hydropower schemes on the Jhelum. Upstream from Azad Pattan are the Mahl, Kohala, and Chakothi Hattian projects; Karot is downstream.

• Like Kohala and Azad Pattan, Karot too, is being developed under the CPEC framework.

Kohala project:

• This is a 1,124 MW hydel project that will come up on the Jhelum at Muzaffarabad near the Siran and Barsala villages.

• According to the CPEC online site, a “tripartite” agreement for implementing the project as part of the CPEC was signed on June 25 between China Three Gorges (CTG) Corporation, the government of PoK and Private Power and Infrastructure Board.

Concerns for India:

• India has strongly protested the construction of dams and other infrastructure in PoK and Gilgit Baltistan, as India claims these territories as part of Jammu & Kashmir.

• With the commission of these projects, China will have a dominant presence in the PoK region which may further escalate the tensions between China and India.

• These projects do not follow the principles of openness, transparency and financial responsibility given by the International agencies.

• Recently, Iran drops India From Chabahar Railway Project Citing Delay In Funding and this move Coincides with its Strategic Deal With China.

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Mains Paper 2: International

Prelims level: Azad Pattan hydel project

Mains level: Key highlights about the project and concern for India

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