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Delayed Jinnah Hydropower project costing Rs6bn annually

Despite the innumerable deadlines, following on each other’s heels, to complete the Jinnah Hydropower Project on the River Indus, the management of Pakistan’s Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) has miserably failed to complete its construction each time. The delay is costing the nation dearly, depriving the people of benefits worth billions of rupees in terms of cheap generation of electricity amid a catastrophic energy crisis, sources said here on Monday.

The 96MW-Jinnah Hydropower Project was scheduled to be completed by February 2010. However, unprecedented floods in 2010 adversely affected the project, causing a delay in its construction. The project was delayed for 15 months because of the negative effect of the floods.

However, it was estimated that the commissioning of the project would be in May, 2011, instead of 18th February, 2010. This deadline was not met. Chairman Wapda Shakil Durrani issued another deadline, saying that the construction work of the first unit should be completed by August 2011, but to no avail. This unit was put on test run in January 2012. Later, Wapda announced that overall work on the Jinnah Hydropower Project would be completed by mid 2012. And now, as per the fresh tentative deadline, it is expected to be completed in March 2013, sources reported.

The inefficiency and slackness of the top Wapda management has resulted in about a one-and-half year delay in the completion of the Jinnah Hydropower Project so far. This delay translates into a Rs nine billion loss in this duration, as about 1032 GWh of electricity cannot be produced.

The project was delayed for three long years, compared to the contractual deadline of February 2010, with damages by the floods adding to the delay by nearly one-and-half year more in its completion. Sources warned that the fresh cut-off date of March 2013 was not final and may be extended later, given the lethargic attitude of Wapda.

At a time when the country direly needed the electricity to cope with its increasing demand, the successive deadlines for the construction of the Jinnah project were not met. A vital component of the energy mix, the importance of cheap hydropower cannot be underestimated in meeting the electricity needs of the country, sources said.

They added that the completion of such projects within the stipulated time has thus assumed utmost significance.The Jinnah Hydropower Project is a run-of-the river project located on the right side of the existing Jinnah Barrage in district Mianwali and is 234 km away from the federal capital Islamabad. The project was envisaged to produce cheap hydroelectricity of 688 GWh annually, providing Rs six billion worth benefits per annum.

The project is a part of the so-called least-cost energy generation plan, being executed by WAPDA on a ‘priority basis’ to harness the indigenous hydropower resource of the country to improve the ratio of hydel electricity in the national grid. The major objective of setting up the Jinnah Hydropower project is to increase generation of low-cost hydel electricity, so as to stabilise the overall tariff in the system.

When contacted, an official of Wapda confirmed delays in the completion of the project. He said efforts were being made to complete this project as soon as possible. He recalled that the floods had played havoc in 2010, causing it extensive damage. He said that out of the eight turbines, the first unit of the Jinnah Hydropower Project was put on trial commission in January 2012 and the remaining units are being installed one by one.

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