The 969MW Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Project is unlikely to become operational soon as the technical fault that forced its closure a few days ago is yet to be ascertained by the local authorities.
That is why Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Wednesday held a meeting on the issue and ordered to have it inspected by international institutions to find out the reason behind the technical fault. After that, immediate measures would be taken to restore the operations of the plant.
The Neelum-Jhelum power plant has suffered a fault following a blockage of water in the tunnel area of 3.5 kilometres that led to the shut down of the plant, taking out 950 MW of electricity from the national grid amid prolonged power outages.
Sources said PM Shehbaz was informed in a preliminary report that the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) had no knowledge of magnitude levels of loss at present.
The premier was informed that they were pumping water into the tunnel to remove the blockage.
The sources added that there was a water blockage in the tunnel area of 3.5 kilometres but Wapda authorities did know the exact location and magnitude of the loss.
The tunnel is used to pump water from the Neelum-Jhelum River to the power plant to generate electricity. The water is again pumped into the tunnel back to the river.
At present, there is no fault in the water tunnel that is used to bring water from the river to the power plant. Even the power plant has no fault.
However, a water tunnel that diverts water from the power plant to the river has suffered a blockage.
The sources said Wapda had also engaged consultants to resolve the issue. However, there is no deadline to resolve the issue so far, the water resources division officials said.
During the meeting, the premier took serious notice of the fault in the power plant and directed to find an immediate solution to resolve the issue.
The participants of the meeting were informed that the country had been deprived of cheaper 969 MW hydropower in the summer season when additional electricity was required to overcome the prolonged power outages.
The Neelum-Jhelum Hydro Power Project was shut down a few days back because of the closure of its tunnel that deprived the nation of 950 MW of electricity.
The hydropower station has been closed amid strict security. The closure of the power plant had been conveyed to all departments concerned through the water resources ministry, Wapda had said.
With the closure of the power station, the country’s electricity shortfall has reached 7,324 MW.
The duration of countrywide power outages was up to 16 hours, and it was even longer in areas where the losses are very high.