China provides Rs 136 bn loan for Pak nuclear plants

Nuclear test

China has provided a loan of Rs 136 billion for two nuclear power plants that Pakistan expects to commission by 2016, the state-run media reported today.

The power plants of 340MW each are being built with Chinese assistance at the Chashma nuclear complex in Punjab province.

The "construction of these power plants became possible after a long-standing agreement", official sources were quoted as saying by APP news agency.

The total cost of the two plants is Rs 190 billion and they will be partially funded by a Chinese loan of Rs 136 billion, the sources said.

The Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission has allocated Rs 34.6 billion a "major chunk" of its budget for the C3 and C4 nuclear power plants at Chashma.

The government has so far spent Rs 62.4 billion on the Chashma project, and with the additional spending of Rs 34.6 billion, authorities believe almost half of the work on the two new power plants will be completed by June 2013, the sources said.

The two plants are expected to be commissioned by 2016 and three other power plants that have already been commissioned are "performing well", the sources said.

PAEC has plans to produce 8,800 MW of nuclear power by 2030.

According to an unnamed official in the Ministry of Science and Technology, the government is harmonising effortsin the energy sector by different ministries, departments and research centres by creating an "Energy Council" with heads of relevant organisations.

The council will advise authorities on priority areas for research and development and on management of resources.

"Acquisition of technology for building nuclear power reactors through research and development, as well as transfer of technology agreements, is also in consideration," the official said.

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