LAHORE: Minister of State for Water and Power Chaudhry Abid Sher Ali has directed WAPDA to ensure that the Neelum Jhelum Hydropower Project starts generating electricity by the end of 2015 in line with the directions of Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif.
He asked WAPDA to expedite construction work on the project, adding that meeting of timelines by the concerned organizations is a key to overcoming the challenge of power outages in the country. The minister expressed these views during his today visit to the Neelum Jhelum Hydropower Project located in Azad Jammu & Kashmir.
He was accompanied by a delegation of Saudi Development Fund and Islamic Development Bank during the visit. Chairman WAPDA Syed Raghib Abbas Shah, Chief Executive Officer of Neelum Jhelum Hydropower Project Lt General R Muhammad Zubair, representatives of the consultants and the contractors and other senior officers of WAPDA were also present on the occasion.
During the visit, the minister had a detailed round of the various sites including powerhouse, transformers hall and the weir dam to witness the progress on the project. He also observed the operation of Tunnel Boring Machines deployed at the project.
Speaking on the occasion, the minister said that energy security figured at the top of the federal government’s agenda, saying that the country’s economic and industrial development suffered a great deal due to energy deficits. He, however, added that the PMLN’s government was determined to rid the country of the menace of load shedding by 2018.
He said that National Power Policy 2013 had all the answers to the raging energy problem as it incorporates short, medium and long-term measures to revamp and bolster the country’s power system. He said that Pakistan’s future lies in low cost hydel power generation as the country possessed an identified potential of about 60,000 MW.
He said that phased increase of hydropower into the national grid to the tune of 12,850 MW over a period of 57 years will not only make low cost energy available but also reduce dependence on the costly thermal source of power generation. He said that the federal government is exploring all available options including hydel, coal, solar and biomass to produce low-cost energy to meet the country’s development needs. Referring to the generous support by Saudi Arabia to Pakistan, he thanked the Saudi Development Fund for providing additional US $ 100 million for Neelum Jhelum Hydropower Project.
Earlier, Chairman WAPDA during a briefing apprised the Minister of State for Water and Power about the progress on the project. He said that in line with the Prime Minister’s directions WAPDA is making all out efforts to complete the project. He said that work on all sites is progressing satisfactorily and overall progress on the project stands at 51%. Out of total 67km tunnels, about 40 km long tunnels about 59% have so far been excavated, while excavation of underground power house stands at 90.6% and transformers hall at 100%, he added.
The Chairman said that on completion, NJHPP will contribute 5.15 billion units of electricity to the national grid every year, adding that annual benefits to be accrued from the project have been estimated at about Rs. 45 billion. He apprised the Minister of the financial issues of the project and sought his support for their resolution. He also requested the Minister to get the laying of transmission line expedited by the NTDC.
The consultants and the contractor also apprised the Minister of State for Water & Power of various issues relating to the project. The Minister directed Chairman WAPDA to resolve all issues in a week. He said that he himself would review progress on the project on monthly basis.