Ghazi-Barotha hydropower project


Duration:8 years

Cost:$2.25bn ($3bn today)

Country: Pakistan

What did this project achieve?

Build a hydropower system to generate electricity

The Ghazi-Barotha hydropower project is a hydroelectric scheme on the Indus River about 10km west of the city of Attock in the district of Punjab, Pakistan. With five generators, the plant has a maximum capacity of 290MW.

Ghazi-Barotha is a run-of-river hydroelectric plant. A run-of-river scheme is one with little or no water storage.

It relies either on the strength of flow of a river, or water from a reservoir or dam upstream.

At the time, the $2.25bn scheme was one of the largest hydropower projects in the world.

Apart from funding from Pakistan itself, financial backing came from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, as well as European and Japanese banks.

The scheme diverts water from a 2.5km-long barrage on the Indus River near the town of Ghazi, about 7km downstream of the Tarbela Dam and its hydropower scheme.

The primary purpose of the Ghazi-Barotha project is to provide constant peak power at times when Tarbela is generating low amounts of electricity.

Water from Ghazi passes along a 52km-long, 100m-wide, concrete-lined open channel to the power station at Barotha. Having gone through the scheme’s five generators, it’s returned to the river.

The project’s acknowledged as being socially responsible – the barrage site and route of the channel were chosen to avoid existing villages where possible.

The scheme won the UK Energy Institute’s International Platinum Award in 2006 for its innovative approach to providing clean and sustainable low-cost energy.


Difference the project has made

The Ghazi-Barotha scheme provides low-cost electricity for the Punjab district and other areas of Pakistan.

The plant generates 10% of Pakistan’s power – making it a major contributor to the country’s expansion programme.

Spoil banks created by the scheme were topped with fertile soil to create farmland. A spoil bank is a pile of rocks, earth or other waste created by excavation works.

How the work was done

The Ghazi-Barotha hydropower project saw engineers build a barrage close to the town of Ghazi on the Indus River.

The Ghazi barrage is 2.5km long and 25m high. Engineers used concrete and earth to create the structure.

A barrage is a type of diversion dam with gates that can be opened or closed to control how much water passes through them. Barrages are often used to regulate river flows for use in irrigation and other schemes.

The project team excavated a 52km-long, 100m-wide canal to carry the water to the scheme’s power station at Barotha. Workers also laid five pressure pipelines measuring 10.6m in diameter to carry water to the project’s turbines.

Engineers laid a 225km-long, 500KV transmission line to carry power generated by the scheme. Other works included the construction of a new electricity substation and the extension of two existing substations.


[It’s an example of how power for Pakistan can be created cheaply, with fewer environmental and social impacts. This is really a model for the country and the world

Mohammad Ashraf

chief engineer

Fascinating facts

The Tarbela Dam is the largest earth-filled dam in the world – it’s also the largest by structural volume.

Tarbela’s reservoir has an area of 60km². Around 82,000 acres of land was taken over for the scheme.

The construction of the reservoir led to the flooding of 135 villages, and around 96,000 people were displaced.

People who made it happen

  • Client: Government of Pakistan
  • Consulting engineers: Pakistan Hydro Consultants, a joint venture of US, UK and Pakistani companies
  • Power station construction: Dongfang Electric Corporation of China

More about this project

Explore more civil engineering projects

I want to become a civil engineer.

See how your studies lead to a civil engineering career

The job you end up with in civil engineering is likely to link back to what you studied at school, college or university. Here you can see your options at any age.

Studying at school

Up to 16 years

School / college

15-18 years

College / university

18 years +

Change career

Any age