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Govt to provide $475m to ensure timely completion of Neelum Jhelum Hydro Power Project

Govt to provide $475m to ensure timely completion of Neelum Jhelum Hydro Power Project

ISLAMABAD: The government is making arrangements to provide US $475 million for the Neelum Jhelum Hydro Power Project (NJHPP) to ensure its timely completion. Chairman of Pakistan Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA), Zafar Mehmood told this to National Assembly Standing Committee on Planning, Development and Reforms which met with Abdul Majeed Khan Khanan Khail in the chair at Parliament House on Monday.

While briefing the Committee, Chairman WAPDA said that for the financial gap in foreign component of US $475 million, various avenues are being explored by the government. He said that the negotiations with Exim Bank China are in process for additional financing and a request in this regard has been made by EAD for the provision of US200 million. He added that a delegation of Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development is visiting Islamabad/ EAD/ Project from 14-19 December, 2014 for additional funding of US $32 million. This amount shall be utilised for completion of the Dam Site and the Switch Yard, he said.

Zafar Mehmood said that for the arrangement of additional financing of US $68 million to ensure the commissioning of first unit (242 MW) of Neelum Jhelum Hydro Power Project in December 2015, Best Effort Plan (US $68 million) for early completion of the Project was evolved with the consent of all stakeholders. It could not be formalised therefore no additional finances were provided to the Project, he said.

Very precious working period has been lost and it is not possible to accelerate the Project as desired, he said. However, he said that the Ministry of the W&P has advised the WAPDA to prepare an Acceleration Plan, in which the Contractor was proposed to prepare incentivized plan. He said that the work on the laying of transmission lines be expedited for the induction of the NJHPP electric power into National Grid.

He said that ban on the recruitment of technical/secretarial staff for Neelum Jhelum Hydro Power Project be made with immediate effect and NJHPP Board may be allowed to initiate the recruitment against 57 vacant posts to ensure the work on project to be continued uninterrupted. He said that for this purpose Board of Director (BoD) of Neelum Jhelum Project in its 19th meeting has approved rationalised technical /secretarial staff to fill the various vacant posts. WAPDA has been requested to place staff on deputation, he said.

The Chairman WAPDA said that all out efforts should be made to make the first unit of Neelum Jhelum Hydro Power Project operational by 31 December, 2015. He said that total land which was acquired for Neelum Jhelum Project is 4342 canals. He said that the total amount transferred/paid to AJ&K revenue department so far is Rs 1411.662 million for acquiring the land.

According to a brief document, the revised cost (PC-1 Revised) of Neelum Jhelum Project is Rs 274.882 billion including Rs 30 billion Institutional Development Credit (IDC) approved by ECNEC on July 4, 2013. The installed capacity of the Project is 969 MW. The annual energy of the Project is 5150 million units ( Rs 45-50 billion annually). Overall progress of the project is 68.4 % and Rs 135.4 billion has been utilised.

The members also expressed a concern over the delay of Lowari Tunnel Project due to insufficient funds. MNA (Iftikhar-ud-Din said that the people of Chitral are facing problems due to not completion of work on Lowari Tunnel. He said that Lowari Tunnel is being opened only two days in a week. He said that the people have to use the route of Afghanistan to go Peshawar and other parts of the country.

Project Director Colonel Sulman (Retd) said that the project would not be completed timely due less allocation of funds. The Chairman of the Committee said that the Committee would write letters to the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms and NHA to place the project on top priority.