Washington: The World Bank has approved about USD 1.09 billion financial aid to Pakistan for funding its two projects that would improve the country's power supply in the crucial agricultural sector.

While the Tarbela IV Extension Hydropower Project will add power generation capacity of 1,410 MW, the Punjab Irrigated Agriculture Productivity Improvement Project is geared toward maximizing water use efficiency for increased yield per unit of water.

"The Tarbela IV Hydropower Project will enhance Pakistan's energy security by adding low-carbon, least-cost and renewable hydel power to its energy portfolio," said Rachid Benmessaoud, World Bank Country Director for Pakistan.

The USD 840 million Tarbela IV Extension Hydropower Project will use the existing dam, tunnel, roads and transmission line for generating additional electricity in summer months when demand for electricity and river flows are high.

"This will help Pakistan reduce the gap between supply and demand of electricity by maximising the benefits of existing infrastructure of Tarbela Dam without requiring any land acquisition or relocation of population," Benmessaoud said.

Meanwhile, the USD 250 million Punjab Irrigated Agriculture Productivity Improvement Programme Project is aimed at getting maximum productivity out of every drop of irrigation water by weaning farmers away from the traditional and wasteful flood irrigation to more modern methods like drip and sprinkler irrigation systems, which in turn will encourage crop diversification.

"High efficiency systems to be installed over 120,000 acres of irrigated lands in Punjab would promote water conservation and increase crop yields," said Masood Ahmad, World Bank's Lead Water Specialist.

"This would have demonstrative effect and local industry would develop for installation of such systems as it happened in case of ground water development over the last three decades after installation of groundwater wells by the government for controlling water logging and salinity," Ahmad said.

The World Bank said that Tarbela IV Extension Hydropower Project includes USD 400 million loan from the International Bank of Reconstruction and Development (IBRD).

The remaining USD 440 million of Tarbela Project and USD 250 million for Punjab Irrigated Agriculture Productivity Improvement Project are credits from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank's concessionary lending arm.

(Agencies)