October 20, 2016Print : National
Neelum-Jhelum hydropower project
ISLAMABAD: The decision to use the first-ever state-of-the-art tunnel boring machine (TBM) in the most strategic Rs404 billion Neelum-Jhelum hydropower project continues to extend dividends as the TBM 697 that cruised the portion of 10.3-km-long Left Tunnel got connected on October 18, 2016 with the 21.7 kilometres of the portion of the tunnel excavated through conventional means i.e. drills and blasts.
The project is being named as a new wonder of Pakistan as 10 percent of the project is on the surface and 90 percent is underground, consisting of 64-kilometre-long tunnels. The project, as of today, is facing a shortfall of $80 million showing that the project is still facing financial constraints, but the management of the project manages to keep constructing and the 32-kilometre-long Left Tunnel was completed last Tuesday with almost 100 percent precision, connected from both sides with just 1-2 inches difference. This is a historic achievement, said sources.
And to celebrate the connection of the tunnel with 100 percent precision, Federal Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Asif will go to Muzzafarabad on October 22 to the site of the project, a top official at the site of the project told The News.
The second tunnel, known as Right Tunnel (RT), also 32-kilometre-long, is also being excavated, the official said. In the Right Tunnel, the boring machine is also engaged, given the task to excavate the 10.3-kilometre-long tunnel.
In the Right Tunnel, the TBM is almost close to completing its task as only 1,800 metres of tunnel is left, which is yet to be excavated by the TBM. So the right tunnel will also be completed very soon.
The decision to import the TBM for early completion of the Neelum-Jhelum project taken in early 2010 by the Board of Directors of Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Company, headed by the-then Wapda chairman Shakeel Durrani, proved correct as the use of TBM has enabled 64-kilometre-long tunnels to get completed almost 11 months earlier than schedule.
“This means that the project will get the benefit of Rs43 billion just because of the use of TBM in excavating 64-kilometre-long tunnels,” the official said.
The official also said that correct decision making always pays. More importantly, NAB that continued a probe for four years into the alleged embezzlement in the Neelum-Jhelum hydropower project has ultimately failed to find anything wrong and closed down the inquiry, declaring nothing has been found illegal.
Earlier, the left head-race tunnel got successfully connected with amazing engineering precision under the River Jhelum. Right head-race tunnel of the project had already been connected in river cross-section in the first week of January 2016.
“The transformer hall and power house with four turbines are also underground, making the project unique of its kind,” the official said.
In terms of the costs, the said project witnessed many upheavals as in 2002, the official said, the cost of the project was Rs84 billion, but after the 2005 earthquake, the project’s design had to be modified, keeping in view the faultlines passing through the project site and the scope of the project also widened. Furthermore, due to the rising value of dollar, the cost of the project had escalated to Rs274 billion.
And for the third time the project’s cost had been revised upward to Rs404.321 billion mainly because of the inclusion of duties, taxes and IDC (interests during cost) till the completion of the project and the cost of the consultant.