Ghazi-Barotha Hydropower Project
The Ghazi-Barotha Hydropower Project is a major run-of-river power project designed to meet the acute power shortage in Pakistan. The main project elements include a barrage located on the Indus River, a power channel (designed to divert water from the barrage) and a power complex. Alternative locations for these elements were evaluated based on technical, economic, environmental and social constraints by an interdisciplinary project team and reviewed by an external environmental and resettlement panel.
Initial assessment of five barrage sites identified by the project consultants resulted in two options being selected for detailed evaluation. The preferred option has less storage capacity than the main alternative, but was preferable in terms of environmental impact.
The most economical alignment for the power channel would have necessitated resettlement of an estimated 40,000 people. Moving the alignment to less densely populated areas, although technically more complex and financially less attractive, reduced the resettlement requirement to approximately 900 people. Additional modifications further reduced the impact on archaeological sites and graveyards.
Five power complex sites were initially studied, and three remained for detailed evaluation. Topographical factors determined the preferred option, as the environmental implications were broadly similar in each case. Sub-elements of the power complex, such as access roads, head pond capacity and embankments, were chosen based on environmental and technical considerations.
Finally, four alternative alignments were evaluated for the 500 kV transmission line connections to the main grid station. The selected routes had minimal environmental and socio-cultural impacts. Detailed design focused on choosing alignment and tower locations with minimal impacts on dwellings, agricultural land and archaeological sites.
World Bank (1996) Analysis of Alternatives in Environmental Assessment. Environmental Assessment Sourcebook Update No. 17, Environment Department, World Bank, Washington D.C.