969MW state-of-art Neelum-Jhelum hydropower project gets operational

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ISLAMABAD: At last the much awaited day has arrived when the most strategic and state-of-art Neelum-Jhelum hydropower project, located in the AJK, will start generating 242MW electricity. However, it will be fully functional by June-July and inject 969MW electricity in the national grid.

The project with capacity of 969MW electricity will generate 5,150 gegawatt per hour at the levelised tariff of 13.50 per unit for 30 years. The annual benefits of the project have been estimated at Rs55 billion. Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi will perform the inauguration ceremony of the project.

The Neelum-Jhelum Hydro Power Project is a world class hydro power facility executed in the deep mountains where geology is neither predictable nor readable.

Never in Pakistan before, has such a complex project, which is one of a kind and is being branded as the new wonder of Pakistan, as only 10 percent of the dam is on the surface, while 90 percent is underground with water-way system comprising 52km tunnels. Besides, transformer halland power house are also underground. The India’s Kishenganga Dam of 330MW has been constructed on the same tributary of Neelum river. Since the water destined for Pakistan has been diverted to the Kishenganga project by India, therefore 10 percent less water will flow into the Neelum river.

The project witnessed many upheavals on its way to completion and 86 percent of the project got completed without financial closure. The cost of the project has been revised five times. Its initial cost was Rs80 billion but ended up at Rs500.343 billion. The Executive Committee of National Economic Council approved the project in 2002 at the cost of Rs84.502 billion. The cost of the project scaled up to Rs277.502 billion, which the ECNEC approved in 2012, and then once again its cost surged to Rs404.331 billion in 2015. And after that it again hiked to Rs500.343 billion.

The initial cost of Rs84 billion increased in the wake of the 2005 earthquake causing design had to be modified keeping in view the fault lines passing through the project site and the scope of the project was also increased.

Furthermore, due to the rising value of dollar the cost escalated to over Rs277 billion. And then the cost of the project was revised upwards by 86 percent to Rs404 billion mainly because of the inclusion of duties, taxes which further pushed the cost to Rs500.343 billion because of the inclusion of IDC (interests during cost) till completion of the project and the cost of the consultant.

Though the credit goes to many personalities in getting the project completed, but there is one man— Lt (retd) General Muhammad Zubair who completed the project from scratch without any financial closure. Former Wapda chairmen, Shakeel Durrani and Zafar Mehmood also played important roles in materialising the project.

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