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September 3, 2019

Dudhnial hydro project’s decade-long holdup costs billions to WAPDA

Business

September 3, 2019

LAHORE: A highly important strategic hydropower project has been lying dormant for a decade and is still counting, chiefly because of misplaced priorities and a failure to play a proactive role on part of Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA), officials said on Monday.

The delay in launching the construction of 960 megawatt (MW) Dudhnial Multipurpose Dam Project has inflicted losses of billions to WAPDA due to less hydroelectric generation from 969MW Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Project (NJHP) on the back of reduced outflows from Kishanganga Hydropower Project, said official sources.

Owing to one reason or the other, the WAPDA has not been able to even complete PC-II of crucial Dudhnial dam project in ten years. This project is critical for avoiding around 10 percent cut in power generation from NJHP, following the construction of Kishanganga project in Indian Held Kashmir, while acting as a balancing reservoir located in between these two functional hydropower plants.

An official of Ministry of Water Resources admitted to the prolonged holdups in initiating work on Dudhnial Dam Project and their repercussions. The PC-II for pre-feasibility was first submitted to the ministry in late 2009, the official acknowledged. However, he added that this site was not put under the domain of WAPDA and Azad Kashmir government did not issue a no-objection certificate (NoC) for starting work on the project. However, the sources insisted that again it was the responsibility of the ministry and WAPDA to sort out these issues well in time by coordinating with the stakeholders.

As Pakistan has not been able to present its right at various international forums and the construction of Kishanganga project was allowed, the downstream flow towards Neelum-Jhelum project stood restricted. Now, after granting of NoC by Azad Kashmir government in late 2017, WAPDA submitted a PC-II to carry out feasibility study of Dudhnail dam project costing Rs377.69 million. It has been proposed to construct a 688.97 feet high Dudhnial dam across the Neelum river, about 103 kilometres above Muzaffarabad and 62 kilometres upstream of the dam intake of Neelum Jhelum project at Nausehri.

The updated PC-II after getting nod from the Ministry of Water Resources has now been submitted to Planning Commission. If progress on this key project continued at the existing snail’s pace, the sources said, physical work on this immensely vital dam would not start even after five years from now. So practically, the officials feared, this project would not be up and running even by 2030. The dam is designed for a gross storage of 1.38 million acre-feet (MAF) while the live storage is 1 MAF. The water from the dam will be extracted through a 5.77 miles long tunnel constructed along the Right Bank of Neelum River. A power house of 960MW capacity would be constructed at the tail-end of the tunnel discharging the water into Neelum River.

The Neelum River water would be stored in the dam during the flood season, which would later be utilised during the low flow periods for power generation. Before the flood season, the dam would be operated by utilising the environmental flows to be released by India into Neelum River below the Kishanganga project. The water released below Dudhnial Dam would compensate 10 percent of the generation loss of Neelum Jhelum project on account of construction of Kishanganga project by India.

Furthermore, additional storage of water of Dudhnial Dam would improve the power generation capacity of the hydro power plants constructed or being constructed downstream by Pakistan on the Neelum and Jhelum Rivers like Maha, Azad Pattan, and Korot hydro power projects. It would also supplement storage supply at Mangla Dam.

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