ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi described the long-awaited Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Project in Muzaffarabad as an “engineering wonder,” during his speech at the inauguration ceremony on Friday.
The project consists of three main components: a dam, 52 kilometers of tunnels and an underground power station.
The prime minister’s office said the project will generate five billion units of cheap hydroelectric power annually, bringing in Rs 55 billion of revenue, a total that will increase in the years to come.
The first unit, which is currently contributing 60 megawatts electricity to the system, will be generating 242 MW when it is operating at full capacity after two days.
The PM’s office said the project will help save huge amounts of money that was previously spent importing oil. It will also reduce dependence on thermal power. “Being an environmentally friendly project, the Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Project will avoid the annual release of 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide from equivalent thermal plants,” it said. The construction work had created 4,500 jobs besides, boosting the economy of the area. it added.
The project was overseen by a Chinese consortium, including China Gezhouba Group and the China Machinery Engineering Company. The Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Company is running the project on behalf of Pakistan’s Water and Power Development Authority.
The joint venture also has five consulting companies: lead firm Norplan, from Norway; US business Montgomery Watson Harza; and Pakistani firms National Engineering Services, Associated Consulting Engineers, and National Development Consultants.
The project was launched in January 2008, and diverts water from the River Neelum through tunnels dug at Nauseri, 41 km from Muzaffarabad, the capital of Azad Jammu and Kashmir. The outfall for power station is in Chatter Kalas.