Islamabad, Pakistan, April 18, 2016—IFC,
a member of the World Bank Group, held events last week to encourage broad
support for improved environmental and social standards in Pakistan’s
hydropower sector in an effort to reduce development impact and risk.
Pakistan has been suffering from a severe
power deficit resulting in an average load shedding of over 6 hours per
day hampering the country’s economic growth and development. IFC is supporting
significant investments in low-cost and renewable energy generation aimed
at benefiting over 12 million people by funding several hydropower projects
in the Jelhum-Poonch River Basin. These projects include operations by
Laraib New Bong Hydropower and Star Hydro. Additionally, IFC has an equity
investment in China Three Gorges South Asia Investment Limited (CSAIL),
which plans to develop mid to large-sized hydropower plants in the same
basin. Most recently, IFC approved funding for the Gulpur hydropower project
operated by Mira Power on the Poonch River.
“Our project is challenged by biodiversity
impacts and the associated cumulative impacts of other developments in
the same basin,” said Jahanzeb Murad, Environmental Manager from Mira
Power. “With IFC’s support we’ve developed a comprehensive biodiversity
strategy that helps our company better manage impacts and engage stakeholders
As the Gulpur hydropower project is
located in Mahaseer National Park, IFC required project developer Mira
Power to update their environmental and social impact assessment in order
for the project to reach financial closure.
The assessment for Mira Power confirmed
that the endangered Golden Mahaseer and critically endangered Kashmir Catfish
were present in the same river as the planned hydropower project. The Golden
Mahaseer is an important source of protein for the local population, while
Kashmir Catfish is endemic to the Jelhum-Poonch
watershed and inhabits a very restricted distribution range. To ensure
the continued health and survival of these crucial local species, IFC and
Mira Power are building fish hatcheries.
IFC is also developing an advisory program
to improve the sector’s environmental and social standards. With the consulting
firm Hagler Bailly and support from the Australian government, the events
this week aimed to gain commitments from stakeholders to implement the
biodiversity strategy for the Jhelum-Poonch watershed to responsibly guide
project development. Attended by hydropower companies, top officials, researchers,
scientists, power planners, and environmental NGOs, the event mapped out
ways to collectively manage the basin.
“Our environmental and social experts
are working to build capacity. They are identifying key issues hydro projects
face and forming innovative ways to manage the Jhelum-Poonch watershed
collectively,” said Moazzam Ahmed, IFC Senior Country Officer based in
Karachi. “We urge companies to continue to work with authorities to improve
environmental and social management. Public-private collaboration on biodiversity
conservation will make a real difference.”
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group,
is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector
in emerging markets. Working with more than 2,000 businesses worldwide,
we use our capital, expertise, and influence, to create opportunity where
it’s needed most. In FY15, our long-term investments in developing countries
rose to nearly $18 billion, helping the private sector play an essential
role in the global effort to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity.
For more information, visit www.ifc.org.