LAHORE: Exim Bank of China will provide $448 million to help complete the strategically important Neelum Jhelum Hydropower Project, which will generate 969 megawatts of electricity.
In another significant development, the Central Development Working Party (CDWP) – a key project approval body – has given the go-ahead to revised PC-I of Neelum Jhelum project amounting to Rs274.882 billion.
These issues were discussed in a meeting presided over by Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) Chairman Shakil Durrani, which reviewed progress on the project being constructed on Neelum River in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
Briefing the meeting, Neelum Jhelum Project CEO said assembly of two German-made state-of-the-art tunnel boring machines was in progress at the site. First machine is expected to be operational in August while the second will start working in September.
“These machines will enhance the pace, thereby reducing construction period of the project by 18 months, resulting in an estimated benefit of Rs60 billion,” he said.
The meeting was told that construction work at all sites including the main dam, tunnels, underground power house and transformers was in full swing. Main and access tunnels spread over 23 km have so far been excavated. Overall progress on the project was 35%.
The project is being developed on priority to produce low-cost hydropower and win priority water rights over Neelum and Jhelum Rivers as India is constructing Kishan Ganga Dam upstream of Neelum Jhelum.
The project will contribute about 5.15 billion units of low-cost electricity per annum to the national grid. Annual benefits of the project have been calculated at about Rs45 billion and the project will pay back its cost in seven years.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 20th, 2012.