ISLAMABAD: The government has approved the Neelum-Jhelum hydroelectric power project at a final cost of Rs506.8 billion.
While approving fourth revision in cost of the 969-megawatt project’s PC-I, the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (Ecnec) set aside corruption and mismanagement allegations. The project had been initially approved at a cost of Rs15.2 billion in 1989. It took 29 years and Rs506.8 billion to complete the scheme.
While chairing the Ecnec meeting, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi turned down a request from the planning secretary to fix responsibility for the delay and cost escalation.
During the PML-N’s tenure from June 2013 to date, the project cost increased from Rs274.9 billion to Rs506.8 billion – an escalation of 84%, showed project documents.
Just eight days before the end of government’s term, Abbasi held the Ecnec meeting in which he approved 10 schemes costing Rs779.6 billion.
At the total cost of Rs506.8 billion, the per-megawatt electricity generation cost of Neelum-Jhelum project comes in at Rs523 million – the highest by local and global standards.
The Dasu hydroelectric power project, which is funded by the World Bank, is being developed at a cost of $2.6 million or Rs261 million per unit. National sentiments were exploited while executing the Neelum-Jhelum project by saying that if tunnel-boring machines were not procured for fast-track construction, India would complete the Kishanganga project first which will deprive Pakistan of its water rights.