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April 30, 2018

Neelum-Jhelum, Tarbela, four projects no more functional

Top Story

April 30, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The 969MW Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower project is no more functional, as Unit 4 that came on stream soon after inauguration by the prime minister on April 13 has stopped generating power.

The Unit 4 is designed to generate 242 megawatt power. The Tarbela-4 project of 1,410MW inaugurated by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi is also not generating power.

The chart of the National Power Control Cell (NPPC) available with The News showing generation by the power houses as of Sunday clearly shows that Neelum-Jhelum and Tarbela-4 projects are not feeding power to the national grid.

The power situation has worsened as the RLNG power plants of 3,600MW installed in the Punjab have been delayed further. Out of them, two projects — one at Haveli Bahadur Shah and another at Balluki — may come on stream by May 13, but authorities at the second floor of Bloc-A of Islamabad Secretariat are still not 100 percent sure in this regard.

The earlier commissioning date for the Haveli Bahadur Shah RLNG plant was April 15. Under the agreement, the COD (Commercial Operation Date) of both the projects was January 9, but so far these are not functional despite the lapse of over five months.

The National Insurance Company Limited (NICL) has already refused to provide reinsurance cover to these two projects of 2,460 MW saying the risk factor is on the higher side, as the plants had never been tested or tried anywhere in the world before, and the Chinese supporting equipment is also not up to the mark.

More importantly, the Chinese companies don’t bear a good record. “And if the projects are made functional and they face any kind of hindrance in the wake of any damage to the plant, then who will bear the loss? So it has been decided that CoD of both the projects will not be declared unless the reinsurance cover is attained,” Rashid Langrial, Chief Executive Officer of National Power Parks Management Company (NPPMC), told The News.

The NPPMC looks after the affairs of the two RLNG power plants. Langrial said under the directives of prime minister his organization had sought the NICL permission to arrange the reissuance cover from a private entity from the global market.

He claimed that he will take 10-12 days to get reinsurance cover after getting the NOC from the NICL. He also confirmed that the NPPMC had started imposing penalty of $1,200,000 per day on the contractor of both the projects ($600,000 per day penalty to each contractor).

The third RLNG project at Bhikki is also facing delay because of failure in synchronization and some vibration issues between the gas and steam turbines. The contractor of Bhikki plant is also facing the $600,000 per day penalty. Bhikki is in the testing phase.

This alarming situation has put the top leadership of government in trouble, as the holy month of Ramazan is just 17-18 days away with the mercury constantly on the rise. Two days after inauguration, the Unit 4 came to a halt, as the seal of the power turbine-4 had got burnt damaging the rotor. As a result, the Unit-4 is no more operational. The repair will take three months.

Officials at the site of projects told The News that the topmanagement of Wapda and Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Company Limited had played a trick on the prime minister. They said the management was now running unit-3 of 242 MW on a tests basis to keep the higher authorities in dark about the unit-4 which is no more functional.

The premier also inaugurated Tarbela-4 extension but that too was generating zero electricity as of Sunday. Officials said the projects should have been inaugurated by the premier after completing the testing phases but the management of Wapda and NJHPNL wanted to get appreciation by showing the prime minister their performance.

A questionnaire was sent to the Wapda Chairman Lt Gen (R) Muzammil Hussain about the situation. The Wapda chairman however refused to accept the ongoing appalling situation saying that the questionnaire was mostly based on half-baked facts.

However, Chief Executive Officer of Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower project Brig (R) Muhammad Zareen avoided answering the question as to why the management of Wapda and NJHPCL had cheated the prime minister by inviting him to inaugurate the project when it was in the testing phase and had not achieved CoD.

He also did not answer the question if the unit-4 was currently not operating. However, Zareen said: “The generation plant is a very complex system of many components. Texting is done with loading the machine progressively (after synchronization with the national grid) to ascertain deficiencies, if any, and do the necessary adjustments which are spread over 4 week normally.

Unit 4 was synchronized on April 9 and on the inauguration day it was generating 121 MW and the PM was briefed accordingly. It is incorrect that the rotor was damaged and rubber ring was replaced on March 30. The plant has so far generated 726MW. The unit-3 was synchronized on April 22 and has gone through all tests by April 27. The contractor is compiling all test documents as per protocols for review by consultants on Monday and permission to begin reliability tests for 72 hours. Thereafter (CoD) commercial operation will commence. It has generated 764MW electricity hours.”