The advancement in the field of science and technology has set new horizons, from a humble beginning to a sentient being that evolved through ages has transformed men from living in a cave to exploring Mars and vying ahead. Innovation in communication systems has made men mobile, and the world a global village. On the other hand, in the field of power systems, the advancements have made the people energized. Moreover, Edison’s very first commercial generation of AC power is now contributing gigantically across the globe. It is unfortunate that great many places are still devoid of essential energy necessary to sustain people in today’s world.
With the increasing gap between demand and supply of energy facing Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), it was predictable that the people will be left at the mercy of a handful of ramshackle generating units. In a bid to overcome the overwhelming demand for electricity, Satpara Dam Project was chalked out. Satpara Dam Consultants, a consultancy firm for the Satpara Dam Project commenced the project in 2003 under the subordination of Pakistan Engineering Services (PES). Moreover big names such as DESCON in civil works and China Machine-Building International Corporation (CMIC) in electrical and mechanical works were hired as contractors. The project was aimed at catering the Power needs of the Skardu city by providing 17MW of electricity.
Satpara Dam Project is the only mega project the area has experienced to date. After the project’s completion earlier in 2014, it is still unable to bridge the city’s energy gap as two out of four generators are still not operational due to administrative incompetency. The two operational units have met their fate at the hands of inept operators after they were change to manual operating from an automatic one.
The electric power system is a complex, composite and intermingled system. Therefore, the need of coherence and harmony among its components is of prime importance. The established infrastructure and newly built system in the city of Skardu still remains incoherent. The generating units normally lie at far-off places and are brought in the vicinity of population via transmission lines and distributed at a Grid Station. All generation meets here and is then dispensed to the utility with calculation and control. The ravines of GB not only attract tourists due to their ravishing beauty but are channeled to generate electricity too. The small on stream, run of the river type power plants employed in the ravines remain mishandled and go unharnessed — one of the reasons for remaining soaring power outages in the city. GB has a repertory of renewable energy sources — Hydal potential being on the top — but the inability to fill the widening energy gap is beyond apprehension.
With the advent of winters the energy needs of Skardu escalate. The subzero ambiance calls for measures to counter its effect and people take stock of possible measures; there is no other option left but to opt for costly wood for cooking and heating purposes. As temperatures aggravate, so does the demand for electricity and people resort to electric heaters to keep them warm, which worsens the demand-supply gap. In winters the inflow of water also decreases, directly affecting the generation capacity. The dearth of generating units coupled with the increased demand dilapidate the socio-economic landscape of the region. The frequent light outages have plagued the daily life. GB has the capacity to not only overcome its own needs, but also of the rest of the country. The government’s lack of interest in capitalizing these resources has stalled the potential growth of the region in particular and of the country in a broader perspective. It is high time that we exploit this resourceful region in terms of renewable energy sources, embarking the country on the avenues of progress and prosperity. This demands sincerity on the part of people at the helm of affairs.