Neelum-Jhelum plant shut down for six months

Neelum-Jhelum hydro-power plant, which is non-operational since July 06, will take six months to restore power supply in the national grid.

The 969 MW project malfunctioned due to blockage in its tail race tunnel. Apparently, it is the geological failure in the tunnel, but the real cause will be traced once the dewatering process is completed, said the top officials of the energy ministry.

However, Wapda insiders told The News that the Chinese contractor CGGC-CMEC (Gezhouba Group), which constructed the project, was engaged. In addition, the water and power authority was also in contact with Stantec – the US-based consultant.

They added that Wapda was in talks with the Chinese contractor for maintenance cost and the modus operandi. “So far, the authorities have initiated the process of dewatering the tail race tunnel of 3.5 kilometres. The dewatering process started on July 10 and from that day it will take 20-25 days to get completed,” sources maintained.

To a question, the officials said since the project is insured by NICL — National Insurance Company Limited, the part of the maintenance cost will be borne through the insurance money.

Neelum-Jhelum hydro-power project was executed at the cost of Rs506 billion and it started functioning from April, 2018 under the deep mountains in AJK where the geology is neither predictable nor readable.

The project is one of its kinds as 10 percent of the dam portion of the project is on the surface and 90 percent is underground with a waterway system comprising 52km tunnels. The project had generated electricity for four years at the cost of Rs9 per unit, but it came to a grinding halt on July 06, 2022 when its important underground tail race tunnel was blocked.

The project envisages the diversion of Neelum waters through tunnels at Nauseri about 41 km upstream of Muzaffarabad and outfalling in Jhelum River near Chatter Kalas in AJK, where the powerhouse is located. The project generates 5.15 billion units annually and has so far contributed 18.2 billion units with annual revenue of Rs50 billion.

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