China and Pakistan sign US$50 billion MoU earmarked for Indus River Cascade

China and Pakistan signed a US$50 billion memorandum of understanding (MoU) on May 13 to develop and complete the Indus River Cascade, according to information from the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The MoU was one of several signed related to improving and developing Pakistan’s infrastructure.

Yousuf Naseem Khokhar, Pakistan’s Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) secretary for Water and Power, and Chinese Ambassador in Pakistan, Sun Weidong, signed the MoU under the CPEC agreement during the Diamer-Bhasha Project Conference hosted by China’s National Energy Administration (NEA) in Beijing, China.

Under the MoU, China’s NEA would oversee building and funding the five hydropower projects that have an estimated total installed generation capacity of 22,320 MW and according to WAPDA, the Indus River has a potential of producing 40,000 MW.

The Indus River Cascade begins from Skardu in Gilgit-Baltistan and runs through Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, both located in the northwestern portion of Pakistan. Overall, Pakistan has identified a potential of 60,000 MW from hydropower projects.

The planned cascade includes the 4,500-MW Diamer-Basha project, which is already being constructed and four additional projects being developed: 2,400-MW Patan; 4,000-MW Thakot; 7,100-MW Bunji; and 4,320-MW Dasu.

In April, WAPDA awarded a pair of contracts to perform resettlement works associated with construction of the two-stage Dasu hydropower project to China’s Zhongmei Engineering Group, worth about $18.56 million combined. The work includes the resettlement of Barseen, Kaigah, Khoshe, Logro, Nasirabad and Uchar.

WAPDA said the resettlement package includes utilities, roads and other amenities including schools, livestock accommodations and recreational areas.

In February, WAPDA announced it finalized the main contracts for civil works for stage-1 of the Dasu project, which is 2,160 MW. The Dasu hydropower stage-I project is estimated to cost about $4.2 billion and is located on the Indus River in the Kohsitan district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Its location is about 240 km upstream of the 3,480-MW Tarbela hydropower complex and 74 km downstream from the Diamer-Basha site.

According to CPEC information, funding the Indus River Cascade represents China’s second-largest investment in Pakistan following $57 billion already committed to several infrastructure improvements under the CPEC.

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