A Chinese company on Monday signed a USD 1.5 billion agreement with Pakistan to set up a hydropower project in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) under the ambitious CPEC project. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan witnessed the signing of the agreement with China Gezhouba for “Azad Pattan Hydropower Project” at a ceremony here.
The project is located in Sadhanoti district of PoK on Jhelum river and is expected to be completed in 2026.
The CPEC, which connects Gwadar Port in Balochistan with China’s Xinjiang province, is the flagship project of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Originally valued at USD 46 billion, the CPEC projects were worth USD 62 billion as of 2017.
India has protested to China over the CPEC as it is being laid through PoK.
The Ministry of External Affairs early this year said that Pakistan was told that entire Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, including areas of Gilgit and Baltistan, are an integral part of India and that Islamabad should immediately vacate the areas under its illegal occupation.
“A part of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), with an investment of USD 1.5 Billion, 700.7 MW Azad Pattan will involve no fuel import, thus enabling the country to move towards cheaper & greener power while generating local job opportunities,” according to an official statement issued by the Pakistan government.
Addressing the ceremony, Prime Minister Khan said that the project was an investment and would not be a burden on the country.
“We have learned a lot from the development of China, and the CPEC project will take Pakistan to the very top,” he said.
A Chinese official last month admitted that the majority of the projects under the BRI are either adversely or partially affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
About a fifth of the projects under the BRI had been “seriously affected” by the pandemic, according to Wang Xiaolong, director-general of the foreign ministry’s international economic affairs department.
About 40 per cent of the projects were “adversely affected”, and a further 30-40 per cent were “somewhat affected” Wang said. The projects which were disrupted included the CPEC.