time Tuesday Jul 19 2022

No power generation from Neelum-Jhelum plant for six months

Neelum-Jhelum plant shut down for six months. —
Neelum-Jhelum plant shut down for six months. —

  • Neelum-Jhelum hydro-power plant stopped working earlier this month due to malfunction.
  • Top officials say real cause would be identified after completion of dewatering process.
  • Say part of the maintenance cost will be borne through insurance money.

ISLAMABAD: The Neelum-Jhelum hydro-power plant, which stopped working on July 6 due to a malfunction caused by blockage in its tail race tunnel, will not be generating power for the next six months.

The News reported that power supply in the national grid will be restored after this period.

Top officials from the energy ministry said that it is apparently a geological failure in the tunnel, but the real cause would be identified after the completion of dewatering process of the 969 MW project.

Meanwhile, sources within the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) said that Chinese contractor CGGC-CMEC (Gezhouba Group), which constructed the project, was engaged and the Authority was also in contact with Stantec - a 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, part of the maintenance cost will be borne through insurance money.

The 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.