Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Project... By Hussain
01 October, 2012
The work on Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Project of 969 MW, which is a symbol of the Pakistan-China strategic partnership, has almost come to a halt due to the non-payment of Rs 7.8 billion to the Chinese companies by the government. This mega project was approved in 1989, intended to begin in 2002 and be completed in 2008, which was not to be, ostensibly because of the non-availability of funds. The work on the project began in 2008 after a Chinese consortium was awarded the construction contract in July 2007. The project was to be completed approximately in 2016. The initial cost of the project has increased manifold, i.e. Rs 15 billion in 1989 to Rs 333.191 billion due to significant delays caused by funding issues, poor planning and a lack of national will to complete it before India's Kishanganga Hydroelectric Project.
The crucial situation has been created due to the non-payment by donors, especially the Chinese EXIM Bank and the Islamic Development Bank and the non-allocation of funds by the government in the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) 2012 to meet any emergent financial situation. The stoppage of work has created a financial dilemma for the Chinese companies as well as the Pakistani suppliers/sub-contractors who obtained funds from banks. The induction of the Tunnel Boring Machines costing Rs 19.5 billion has been deployed to accelerate the work so that the project could be completed some 18 to 22 months ahead of its revised scheduled time. However, these machines will lie idle now in the absence
of funds as these machines operate on fuel and not on water.
This project is suffering a big blow due to the non-issuance of funds. Therefore, I appeal to the president, prime minister, minister of finance, minister of water and power and chairperson WAPDA to release funds worth Rs 7.8 billion on a war footing for the smooth construction of an important project of national importance.
M M HUSSAIN