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Work on Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Project halted

Work on Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Project (NJHP) has suffered a big blow due to lack of funding, sources said on Friday. The Chinese contractor has started suspending work on various sections of the project with the passing of the deadline that had been given for the release of Rs7.8 billion in funds.

The contractor has told the Ministry of Water and Power about its inability to continue work on the 969MW project beyond August 10, 2012, sources added. “It is indeed a setback for the project,” said an official. He hastened to add that the federal finance ministry had said that a review committee was being set up for the release of funds. A delay in the release of funds would virtually defeat the purpose of inducting sophisticated tunnel boring machines (TBMs) that were inaugurated by the prime minister himself a few days back.

The TBMs had been acquired with a view to speeding up work on the project. The use of TBMs for the main diversion tunnels has been aimed at enhancing the pace of work, thereby reducing the construction period by a year and a half, resulting in an estimated benefit of Rs60 billion.

More importantly, the early completion of NJHP assumes immense importance in order to neutralise Indian designs of utilising Jhelum water for the under construction Kishanganga Hydropower Project being built upstream in Indian occupied Kashmir.

The completion of NJHP should be done as per schedule to safeguard Pakistan’s water rights over the Neelum River, a major tributary of Jhelum River, sources said.

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