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Hydropower - Why not from canals, rivulets.

A school of thought amongst engineers has begun to plead for building small hydro power stations on streams and canals all over the country. They say that if we can't build big dams (e.g. Kalabagh) for 'political reasons', it is time we start looking elsewhere - small hydro stations. These are easy and cheap to build and will relieve us the present power crisis.

A letter from a group of three engineers has asked Engineering Review to raise the issue with electrical engineers through the Institution of Electrical & Electronics Engineers, Pakistan. They have asked us not to mention their names as it might hurt their jobs because they believe their bosses do not feel comfortable with the suggestion.

Yes, we need big dams/ hydro power stations as they also store flood waters, but if they are obstructed by 'dirty politics', we should begin raising small power stations along canals and streams. We may add here that Pakistan has innumerable clean and renewable energy resource including canals and streams with a bountiful potential of generating cheap hydro power, said the letter.

It added that large hydropower projects have numerous technical and economic challenges like extreme weather conditions, non-availability of labor, housing and open land, plus environmental issues and resettlement of population, high capital cost and long gestation periods. These factors make projects difficult to execute and make some projects even non-viable.

Micro and mini hydropower projects, on the other hand, need no big investment, technical assessment and other prerequisites of large hydropower projects. They are highly feasible even in far flung and high altitude areas as they need only small space, investment, light technology and small completion time. They do not hurt environment, nor is population resettlement a big matter.

Neither do they need complex technology or detailed studies of topography, hydrology and site geology. They are easy to design and their hardware can be manufactured locally without foreign investors or technical teams.

These projects are more sustainable and easy to maintain which the local community can handle quite easily. These small projects will add about 22,000 MW to our energy mix.

Pelton and cross flow turbines will give good generation on streams/ rivulets in northern and high altitude areas. Southern parts will need low head Kaplan turbines to generate power from flowing canals without hurting the irrigation needs.

It is time we begin using this precious energy resource without waiting for foreign lenders/ investors and relying on foreign technology, said the letter. It concluded by urging Engineering Review to not only report the suggestion, but also ask IEP and IEEEP to discuss the issue in their technical sessions and suggest appropriate measures to WAPDA and other relevant state bodies.

Complicated DTRE - Auto sector gets nothing

_: Pakistan Association of Automotive Parts and Accessories Manufacturers (Paapam) finds Duty Tax Remission for Exports (DTRE) scheme useless for auto parts industry. Paapam Chairman Munir Bana and Vice Chairman Usman Malik say only big exporters and large scale manufacturers can avail of it as SMEs can neither comply with the lengthy, complicated and cumbersome procedures nor can they import full consignment of containers.

According to Munir Bana no auto engineering unit out of several hundred in Pakistan can benefit from the scheme and increase country's exports. Not one company has big enough volumes to avail of DTRE. Stressing on consistency in export related policies, he urged Islamabad to make several segments of its policy, including DTRE and Sales Tax Refund system simpler.

If the government removes all the red tape from DTRE and makes it practical and simple, auto engineering exports will go up manifold as production cost will be cut by at least 15%, he added.

Bana appreciated government's export friendly schemes but had reservations over their implementation process. He called for removing all impediments and applying the schemes in their true spirit.

Vice Chairman Paapam Usman Malik pointed out that around 90% export oriented auto engineering units are located in Punjab, but since the province was hit by the worst energy crisis, those units could not avail import of duty free raw material to avoid delays in exports, as DTRE audit takes nearly six months.

He said that auto engineering is very sophisticated and complex and totally different from other sectors, so DTRE rules could not be implemented here.The government should therefore align DTRE rules in line with industry's needs to give a jump start to auto parts exports.

He appealed to the government to also proactively deal with the current energy crisis to avert industrial closures and resulting downturn. Power shortage was depriving the country of 2% of its GDP, a loss of Rs 52 billion of revenue annually. And if corrective measures are not taken, not just industrial production but all economic activities will come to a grinding halt.
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Publication:Pakistan Engineering Review
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Jun 30, 2013
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