Pakistani Kashmir turns to water to solve power crisis

AFP, Neelum Valley :
As Pakistan grapples with a crippling energy crisis, people in one corner of Kashmir have taken matters into their own hands, using small-scale turbines to generate electricity from streams and rivers.
Pakistan is plagued by power cuts, lasting up to 22 hours a day in the blistering summer in parts of the country, blighting ordinary people’s lives and hampering the economy.
Government moves to tackle the problem have so far yielded little success and have largely focused on moving from expensive imported oil to cheaper coal.
But in Kashmir’s upper Neelum Valley-part of the disputed Himalayan territory known to locals as “Heaven on Earth” for its unspoilt beauty-hundreds of families have chosen a more environmentally friendly option, setting up small-scale hydro projects to produce electricity for a few hours a day.
“The turbine was paid for with contributions from 50 families and cost us 300,000 rupees ($3,000) in total,” said Rahimullah, 35, who operates a turbine machine.
Some were moved by necessity-less than half of the Neelum Valley’s 200,000 inhabitants have access to electricity from the grid.
Small turbines are driven by the flow of water to work generators to produce power, and the 200-kilometre (120-mile) Neelum river that forms the picturesque valley, as well as its tributaries, give the area great potential for hydroelectric generation.