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Ghazi-Barotha Hydropower Project, Pakistan



Water flows from the power channel into the forebay and is stored in two adjacent headponds with a combined capacity of 25.5 million m3
Located around 100km from Islamabad on the Indus River this 1450MW hydropower project has provided an unprecedented opportunity for Pakistan’s economy through enhancing power capacity and reducing dependence on limited fuel imports into the country – as well as cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Benchmark for best practice

Work on the Ghazi-Barotha hydropower project has received prestigious acclaim, highlighted by its success in winning the Energy Institute’s International Platinum Award 2006. It is destined to provide an example for future projects in Pakistan and beyond, not least for its focus on the social and economic needs of village communities. Mott MacDonald, in consortium, provided comprehensive site supervision services for the project, which is recognised for its role in establishing many industry good practice standards.

From the outset, the national utility Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) placed great emphasis on the rural community and held consultative meetings with representatives from key stakeholder groups in order to address environmental and social effects. Because the power channel location was carefully chosen to run through the foothills avoiding villages, only 110 families had to be relocated. These families received funds to build new houses in three specially developed villages.

Waste improvisation

Pakistan has more than 600km of link canals that convey irrigation water from one river to another and in most cases the excavation material arising from their construction was dumped on the banks creating waste lands. For the first time in Pakistan, material excavated on this project has been used to create spoil banks topped with cultivatable soil to act as farmland. WAPDA also plans to provide tubewells where sub-soil water is available for irrigation. In total, 158 such banks were created, with a total area of about 809ha.

Innovative thinking

Another innovative approach enabled the size of the power channel to be kept to a minimum. Water flows from the channel into the forebay and is stored in two adjacent headponds with a combined capacity of 25.5 million m3. The ponds augment the 1600 m3/s of discharge from the channel to 2200 m3/s, thereby providing enough water to operate the power plant (five 290MW turbine generators) at its full capacity every day throughout the peak demand period.

A further innovation is the forebay itself, which contains a self-priming siphon spillway that features no moving parts. Its function is to spill excess water while maintaining the ideal operating level for maximum hydraulic power. This design allows a low weir flow to spill above the normal operating level until the maximum normal level of the forebay and ponds is reached. At this point it primes fully and the spillway flow increases to its maximum.

A fibre optic link cable between the power complex and the barrage at the head of the channel means it is possible to monitor water control and other features of the project at all times. The scheme has a distributed control system which enables the power station to be remote controlled from start up to shutdown and provides full diagnostic capability, ensuring that faults are traced in the shortest possible time.


Indigenous oil, gas or fossil fuels in Pakistan are limited and so expansion in generating energy capacity relies on hydropower to reduce fuel imports – a need well fulfilled by this US$ 2.25 billion run-of-river scheme. Ultimately, the Ghazi-Barotha Hydropower Project represents an extraordinary combination of collaboration, fresh thinking to provide cost benefits to the contractors and innovative solutions to bring benefits to its management and the surrounding community.

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