What are Azad Pattan and Kohala Hydropower Projects in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir?
On July 6, 2020, Pakistan and China signed an agreement for the construction of Azad Pattan Hydel Power Project of 700.7 megawatts of electricity as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Prime Minister's Office issued a statement regarding the signing of a deal between Pakistan and China. This so far the second biggest agreement Pakistan has inked with China after 1124MW Kohala Hydropower Project worth $2.4 billion.
List of strategic bridges made by India in 2019-2020
Kohala Hydroelectric Power Project
The Kohala Hydroelectric Power Project will be built on Jhelum River in PoK (Pakistan Occupied Kashmir) and is being implemented by the Kohala Hydropower Company Private Limited (KHCL). It is roughly 7 km upstream of Azad Pattan Bridge in the Sudhanoti District (PoK) and 90 km from Islamabad, the capital city of Pakistan. The project is expected to be completed by the year 2026. The project will be sponsored by China Three Gorges Corporation, International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Silk Road Fund.
Azad Pattan Hydroelectric Power Project
The Azad Pattan hydroelectric power project will be built on the dual boundary between Rawalpindi district (Punjab) and Sudhnoti district (PoK) on Jhelum river. It is 40 km upstream from Muzaffarabad and has a 20 km long tunnel connecting to the powerhouse which is located at Barsala 7 km upstream from Kohala Bridge. It is being developed by Azad Pattan Power Private Limited (APPL). The project will be sponsored by the China Gezhouba Group Company (CGGC).
Criticism on the Project
This agreement has invited criticism not just from India but also from the residents of PoK (Pakistan Occupied Kashmir). As per ANI, the residents in Muzaffarabad have protested against both the projects-- Azad Pattan and Kohala Dam projects.
India's stand on the project
India has since long opposed the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), passing through Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh region, which is under the illegal occupation of Pakistan. This project is one of China's ambitious cross-continental Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).