Funds paucity halts work on Neelum power project

STAFF REPORT LHR:  Work on the Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Project (NJHP) has suffered a big blow mainly due to lack of funding, sources have informed saying the Chinese contractor has started suspending work on various sections of the project as the government of Pakistan has not released Rs7.8 billion funds despite lapse of the deadline.

“It is indeed a setback for the project,” said an official, however, he said that a review committee is being set up for the release of funds.

This delay in the release of funds would virtually defeat the purpose of inducting sophisticated tunnel boring machines (TBMs), acquired with a view to speeding up work on the project. The use of TBMs for the main diversion tunnels has been aimed at enhancing the pace of work, thereby reducing the construction period by a year and a half, resulting in an estimated benefit of Rs60 billion.

More importantly, the early completion of NJHP assumes immense importance in order to neutralise Indian designs of utilising Jhelum water for the under-construction Kishanganga Hydropower Project being built upstream in Indian occupied Kashmir.

According to the official, the project should be done as per schedule to safeguard Pakistans water rights over the Neelum River, a major tributary of Jhelum River.

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