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September 15, 2017

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Neelum-Jhelum hydropower plant to be completed in Jan

Neelum-Jhelum hydropower plant to be completed in Jan

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly was informed on Thursday that Neelum-Jhelum hydro power plant (NJHEP) would start functioning in January 2018, as 96 percent work on it has been completed.

"The government has allocated Rs19 billion in the public sector development programme 2017/18 for the project and around 96 percent work on it has been completed," said Chaudhry Jaffar Iqbal, minister of state, during the question-answer session.

It is a fact that unavailability of timely funds remained a major cause for the delay in commencement and completion of Neelum-Jhelum hydropower plant. The minister said Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) commenced work on the project after provision of Rs5.2 billion cash development loan with an arrangement of Neelum-Jhelum surcharge from the government of Pakistan.

The government proceeded on arranging foreign and local loans from December 2009 to December 2016, he said. "No lender is ready to finance Neelum-Jhelum hydro power plant except the Middle Eastern lenders."

Later, he said, with the concerted efforts of the economic affairs division, Exim Bank China also agreed initially with the financing of $448 million in January 2014 and subsequently second loan of $576 million in February 2017.

The pace of work; thus, remained slow on the project due to non-provision of funds on a timely manner, he added. Due to increase in the cost with the passage of time, the financial close is still not achieved despite the latest arrangement of funds of sukuk worth Rs100 billion and Exim Bank loan of $576 million by the government, the minister added.

The government is working on 60 different schemes to build water reservoirs to meet the country's increasing needs, he said, adding that construction of Diamber-Bhasha dam could not be started yet due to non-arrangement of finances.

However, he said, land acquisition, construction of infrastructure and preliminary works, ie, project colony at Thor Valley, Composite Model Village II at Harpan Das are in process. To prepare financing strategy for the project, he said, a committee has been constituted by the ministry of water resources, which would submit its recommendations to the Cabinet Committee on Energy for approval.

The Neelum-Jhelum hydro power plant project has been bifurcated into two parts, ie, dam and power generation. "In this regard, PC of dam part has been submitted to the Planning Commission on March 24, 2017.

PC-I for implementation of power generation part of the project will be submitted by the year 2020 after making progress on the construction of dam, he added.

As per the timeline given in PC- I (dam part), the dam will be operational in about 10 years after commencement of work related to construction of the dam," he added. —

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