Neelum-Jhelum : Funding crunch slows down power project
Posted by :Team Aman newsPosted date : February 14, 2015In Jammu & KashmirComments Off on Neelum-Jhelum : Funding crunch slows down power project
Project completion delayed as costs rise to Rs274.88 billion. PHOTO: EXPRESS
A funding crunch will keep the Neelum-Jhelum hydropower project unfinished this year, forcing officials to treat 2016 as the target year for completion.
This was stated by project director Neelum-Jhelum hydropower project Lt Gen (retd) Muhammad Zubair, who was giving a briefing to the Senate standing committee on Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) on Tuesday.
Zubair said the project has been delayed due to a constant shortage of funds since it was launched back in 2008, and due to the delay the cost has escalated manifold. He added that the overall project work has been completed up to 69 per cent so far. The total cost of the project has risen to Rs274.88 billion after a second revision of the PC-I of the project. So far, Rs166.3 billion have been spent on the project under different heads.
“This project was due to complete in 2015 but it could not be possible because of a shortage of funds; it will definitely be completed by 2016,” said Zubair. This hydroelectric project is being constructed near Muzaffarabad, Azad Kashmir, which would add 969MW electricity to the national grid once it is formally functional.
Zubair said it would produce 5.515 billion units of electricity annually. “It is a unique hydropower plant in the sense that the water will not be wasted even after generating electricity.”
According to him, 79 per cent work on the tunnels has been completed and excavation work for installment of turbines has been completed 100 per cent. Around 4,243 kanals of land has been acquired for the project; out of the total land, AJK authorities provided 719 kanals while the remaining 3,524 kanals was acquired from private land owners.
So far, six out of the 19 transformers for the project have reached Pakistan from China, and the remaining will soon arrive within the next 45 days.
Zubair also informed the committee that a Chinese engineer, along with three Pakistani workers, was killed during work on the project site last month. He said that Rs500,000 in compensation was paid to the heirs of each worker. However, committee members expressed their concern over the meagre amount paid to the heirs and recommended that they receive compensation as per the international standards.
The Azad Jammu and Kashmir’s chief secretary informed the committee about the damage and devastation caused by the monsoon floods last September.
The damages have been estimated at Rs4.539 billion. As per the AJK government’s statistics, 56 died and 87 others were injured due to heavy floods triggered by the monsoon rains.
The natural calamity has displaced as many as 46,979 people and affected 187 villages in various districts.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 14th, 2015.