JHIMPIR, Sindh - "I still cannot fathom
how electricity can be produced by the wind," said
a nonplused Mohammad Ahmed, a 55-year-old local
baker, as he gazed up at a row of giant wind
These huge windmills, over a
dozen of them, stand tall over the horizon, visual
long before one actually enters the picturesque
town of Jhimpir, about 70 kilometers from the
southern port city of Karachi, in the Sindh
Some reaching 84 meters, others
towering at 94 meters tall, weighing approximately
84 metric tonnes (excluding the weight of the
towers) their blades slightly longer than the
spread of the wings of a Boeing 747, these wind
turbines dwarf some of the
tallest buildings dotting
The blades carve
through the winds of Jhimpir, producing energy.
Four of these, set up by the Turkish company Zorlu
Energi, have already been producing and supplying
electricity to the government for the past three
A year ago, when the entire
country was suffering from long hours of power
outages and windmills first began producing
electricity on an experimental basis in Jhimpir,
it was perhaps the only town in Pakistan where the
lights never went out.
"It was such a
delight but it only lasted a year," said Khair
Mohammad Qasi, a poet and a writer based in
Jhimpir. "For the entire town, even electricity
generated by one windmill is enough." Arif
Alauddin, head of the Alternative Energy
Development Board (AEDB), the entity responsible
for facilitating the private sector's
establishment of windmills, told Inter Press
Service (IPS), "Our target for 2013 is to produce
over 400 megawatts of electricity based on the
land that has been made available. If we have more
land, we think we can add 400-500 (additional
megawatts) every year."
Pakistan faces a
shortage of about 5,000 megawatts of power.
Classified as the "best wind regimes" in the
country, the energy produced at Jhimpir will go to
the national grid, and be spread throughout the
country, "wherever it is needed," said AEDB's
At the cut off wind speed of
12 meters per second or higher, the turbines stop
operation, Alauddin said. The turbines also don't
operate below the speed of 3.5 meters per second.
Overall, the Sindh province has the
potential to produce 50,000 megawatts of wind
energy, whereas the various pockets around the
country can produce as much as 350,000 megawatts,
according to the National Renewable Energy
Laboratory in the United States.
days, a new turbine is seen rising out of the
At the moment
there are 18 private companies in the field, with
projects at various stages of completion. Each
project will have a generating capacity of about
50 megawatts, costing US$130 million, using
different turbines. By next year, eight to 10 of
these companies will be fully operational.
This means that soon the countryside will
be littered with the giant towers, which will
catapult Pakistan into the top 20 producers of
wind energy. While work on wind energy has been
going on for some years, it is only in the last
three years that the sector actually went into
high gear. But now Pakistan seems to be making up
for the lost time.
developed countries with mandatory emission
reduction quotas under the Koyoto Protocol, we
will be the third, maybe fourth [largest producer
of wind energy] after China and India," estimated
Local resentment But
the rush to produce energy has elicited opposition
from local communities.
"Work is going on
at breakneck speed but local people are not being
employed," said Rasul Baksh Dars, a local teacher.
All their hopes that the area would be developed
and they would prosper have been dashed, he said.
Anwar Palari, spokesperson of the Kohistan
Bachayo Action Committee, told IPS, "They [the
companies] justify hiring people from outside by
saying they cannot find people with technical
know-how locally; but when they launched their
projects, why didn't they train the educated
Hosh Mohammad Jatial, an engineer
with Zorlu Energi, which has recently begun
generation, insisted, "We have hired 15 locals out
of a team of 32. We can't increase our manpower,"
he said, admitting there is a lot of pressure on
his company to increase employment.
claims that all of the local workers are
"non-technical people". "We couldn't even find a
welder from the town."
But according to
Palari, the few locals who had been hired by these
power companies were "qualified engineers who
[were given] menial labor-intensive jobs."
Driving away from the Zorlu wind farm,
past the Fauji Fertiliser Company turbines, down a
dusty, bumpy road, one finally finds the village
of Umar Chang, where Mohammad Tayyeb (55), a local
farmer, told IPS, "I don't think we will ever get
the promised electricity produced by these wind
"They will take it to Karachi,
even Nooriabad [the industrial town closest to
Jhimpir] but not give even a little bit to our
village," he said.
Noor Mohammad, one of
the few literate men in the village, said, "It's
our land and it's our right to benefit from any
good thing happening here."
the locals possessed land deeds dating back to the
period of British colonial rule, proving that
their forefathers had lived in that very village.
"We till the soil, and all this," he waves
his hand to indicate the vast expanse of land
around him "are pastures for our livestock. When
these companies erect more of these windmills,
they will also fence the farms, thereby
[shrinking] our pastures."
Sial, the district coordination officer, the
highest government authority in Jhimpir, is quite
aware of these concerns but told IPS, "We have
only given state-owned land to the investors." He
also pointed out that some people had brought in
"fake papers" claiming the land was theirs.
Alauddin acknowledged that among the
reasons for delay in unfettered energy production
were "claims by the locals to the land". He said
that the matter is now in court.
a win-win situation for all - the investor, the
local people and even the government and we
definitely don't want the local people to feel
disturbed. We are trying to ensure that their
concerns are not left unattended. We are trying to
work out how we can bring in health, water and
education benefits to the communities while this
development project is being carried out."