Thursday February 02, 2023

Damned dam

July 15, 2022

The Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Plant is part of a hydroelectric power scheme in Azad Kashmir, designed to divert water from the Neelum River to a power station on the Jhelum River through 41 kilometre long twin tailrace tunnels. Gaining approval in 1989, the project was scheduled to be completed by 2008. However, rising costs led to delays and the 2005 Kashmir earthquake required the entire project to be redesigned. Construction on the project resumed in 2008 after a Chinese consortium was awarded the construction contract in July 2007. The entire project was completed in August 2018 at a cost of Rs508 billion.

Unfortunately, on July 6, 2022, the 969MW project shut down after cracks were detected in the tailrace tunnel. For a poor and energy-starved country like ours, this news is a tragedy far bigger than the news headlines would indicate. In a country where numerous dams and run-of the-river power projects could be set up, trying to generate electricity through tunnels in an earthquake-prone area is more criminal than incompetent.

Zamurad Ali