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November 5, 2016

Neelum-Jhelum project enters terminal phase: CEO


November 5, 2016

ISLAMABAD: The much-touted Neelum-Jhelum hydropower project has now entered into terminal phase with 100 percent perfect design, new CEO of NJHP Brig (R) Engineer Muhammad Zareen said.

“At the very outset, the project was conceived in haste with poor design to garner the water priority rights of Neelum River as at that time India had started working on Kishenganga project on the same river. In 2006-07, the design was revamped after catastrophic earthquake that hit AJK, KP and northern parts of the country in 2005,” Zareen told The News. 

When his attention was drawn towards recent uttering of Wapda Chairman Lt Ge (R) Muzammil Hussain unravelling that the Neelum-Jhelum project design was poor, Zareen explained that the chairman wanted to mention the design carved out for the project was poor at the time when it was initiated with an aim to get water property rights of Neelum River. 

However, after the earthquake, the project’s design was revamped and even after that some changes were made. Zareen defended the statement of Wapda chairman arguing that he (chairman) had pinpointed that the design was poor which meant that at the earlier stages the design was not up to the mark which was improved gradually. “Now the project is on way to completion with 100 percent perfect design,” Zareen stressed.

Zareen agreed with the dividends of tunnel boring machine (TBM), but at the same breathe he said that if it were included at the time of tender design, the price of TBM would have been more affordable with more dividends.

However, the top Wapda officials who have been part of the project of strategic importance from scratch to the 85 percent completion said that at the time of tender design, the dividends of TBMs were not worked out at the global level.

But when it came to knowledge that in Switzerland a tunnel was excavated through the TBM, the then Wapda chairman Shakeel Durrani sent an experts’ team to Switzerland to know the benefits of using TBM. After the visit, the then president of Pakistan Asif Zardari was briefed over the TBM’s importance for early completion of the project and he gave Wapda chairman a go-ahead. So the board of directors of Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Company headed by Shakeel Durrani approved procuring the TBM for the project.

Wapda officials went on to say that Neelum-Jhelum Hydro Power Project is a world class hydro power facility being executed under the deep mountains where geology is neither predictable nor readable. They said never in Pakistan has such a complex project, which is 80 percent underground, been developed. There are strategic water issues involved that is why it was not developed earlier. These types of mega projects can only be executed with speed if projects are planned well and huge outlays are made available in time and political will prevails with a consistent thrust. All said and done, NJHPP has achieved 85.5 percent progress and is heading towards completion despite all delays in release of funds, weather conditions, non-availability of power during early stage of construction and delays in land acquisition.

The project has been conceived very well starting from 1983-85 where Wapda itself identified the proposed location for NJHPP in which Wapda team under the caption of NJ-Kohala Hydel Complex was conceived and then M/s Nor Consult (Norway) carried out a fresh feasibility study in 1993. These recommendations led to the finalised study (December 1996) where the project texture was enhanced from 550MW to 969MW and power house shifted to Chattar Klass.

The design of the project has been prepared under the leadership of the reputed consultants M/s Montgomery Watson Harza (MWH) and directly supervised by a world class panel of experts from Pakistan and abroad.



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