Powering through the power crisis: a success story of electricity generation

Earlier, he would also buy kerosene for his lanterns to light up his rooms which was costlier than the charges of electricity which he now pays to the management committee of the powerhouse each month at the rate of less than four rupees per unit. He was unacquainted with refrigerator, microwave oven, heater, electric iron etc before his village was electrified. In his late 50s now, Bakhtawar Khan is jubilant over getting the facility that brought ease and comfort to his life. Like Bakhtawar Khan, about 25,000 households now get electricity from small hydropower stations across Chitral district where people were once not sure whether their areas would be electrified by the government during their lifetime. `Where there is a will, there is a way` and such is the case of the marginalised community of remote villages of Chitral where people converted the water galore into power. Spread over an area of 14,850 square kilometres, Chitral district is area-wise the largest district of the province and the origin of Kabul River is situated here in Chiantar glaciers in Boroghil area. Each of the 36 valleys of the district has a stream running across it with the potential of hydropower generation due to slopped topography of the area. As per statistics available with a non-governmental organisation, only five percent of the total population availed electricity in early 1980s when the people had yet to embark on generating hydro-electricity for themselves. The credit goes to Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) for organising the local community of the remote villages by providing them with technical support, finances and machinery apart from social organisation to establish small hydel power stations. Engineer Fazle Rabi, who has been associated with power wing of the organisation, said that more than 50 small hydel power stations had been established by AKRSP whose total generation capacity was about 9.3 megawatts. He said that 25,000 households were being provided with electricity by the small hydel power stations established by the community with the help of NGOs while private investors had also embarked on hydel power generation as abusiness. The union council of Ayun is completely electrified by a private hydel power station whose consumers are quite satisfied by uninterrupted power supply with full voltage. Sarhad Rural Support Programme (SRSP) has also a full-fledged hydel power generation wing to electrify more villages. It completed a 600-kilowatt generation hydel power station for the Kalash community of Bumburate valley, which has brought about a revolution in the lives of these people. During last winter, warm water was provided to nearby homes through hosepipes which was quite a unique idea. The Kalash women were praising SRSP while washing their clothes in the community washing room where hot water is abundantly provided by the power station. Engineer Altaf Hussain Shah, district engineer of AKRSP, said that the rate of electricity per unit generated by the hydel power stations was less than one rupee, which helps the community to save money spent on wood meant for cooking, lighting and heating. He said that SRSP had formulated a plan to develop micro hydel power generation. He said that under the Programme for Economic Advancement and Community Empowerment (Peace), over 10 hydel power stations were being established by SRSP which will generate three megawatts of electricity during six months after their completion. The Peace project has been launched to mitigate the sufferings of Malakand division which had been hit by different calamities during last three years and hydel power generation features prominently in its priority list due to its importance, he said. Mr Shah believes that the fast depleting forest of oak and deodar can be saved only by hydel power generation. He said that presently the number of households being electrified by the small hydel power stations across the district is about three times more than those electrified through the national grid. Workload on women has been reduced considerably due to power generation in the remote villages, while the income per household has increased manifold due to electricity, says Dr Inayatullah Faizi, a former project manager of the IUCN. He said that availability of electricity had provided more free time to the woman, which they utilised for income generation leading to their economic empowerment.–Zahiruddin (Dawn)]]>

One Reply to “Powering through the power crisis: a success story of electricity generation”

  1. Very well all these powerhouses should be an example and we should know that there is lack of will that has kept Pakistan so low on all social indicators.We should change our primitive thinking and adopt ways to resolve our issues. During a visit to Chitral a few months back I was disappointed that the whole town was without electricity for weeks. People there said this is a routine round the year and when the electricity comes for a few hours after days it only light up a zero bulb. I am surprised why none of the NGOs ever tried to build a power house in Chitral. Like the far-off Yarkhun valley they should also work for ending the power crisis in Chitral town without any discrimination. best wishes for Chitral.
    Amanullah Sattar
    South Africa

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *