MUZAFFARABAD: The government of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) are likely to sign an agreement on the 969-megawatt Neelum Jhelum Hydroelectric Project (NJHP), almost eight years after its commencement near here.
“The draft of the long overdue agreement between us and Wapda has almost been finalised in line with the aspirations of the people of Kashmir and it will soon be formally put into effect,” AJK Electricity Minister Raja Faisal Mumtaz Rathore told Dawn.
The construction began in January 2008, six months after Wapda awarded the contract to a Chinese consortium, without signing a formal agreement with the AJK government in a move that has been widely criticised in the region.
The project is scheduled to be commissioned by the middle of next year.
The minister, who was accompanied by Electricity Secretary Fayyaz Ali Abbasi and other officials, claimed that under the agreement Wapda would pay to the AJK government 42.5 paisa per kWh (unit) generated by the NJHP as ‘water use charges/royalty’ from the start of its commercial operation.
Wapda would also be liable to pay any enhancement approved in future for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa or any other province, he said.
The water charges for the NJHP will be Re0.27 more than what AJK is getting from the Mangla project in Mirpur district.
While the water use charges from Mangla stood at about Rs 800 million per annum, the NJHP would contribute around Rs 2 billion, the minister said.
He was optimistic that the electricity tariff dispute between the AJK government and Wapda would also be amicably resolved.
Wapda would charge AJK Rs5.79 per unit from July 1 till the next tariff determination, he said.
Regarding Rs60bn arrears claimed by Wapda, the minister said the amount would be recalculated in view of the revised tariff and would be slashed by one-fourth.
“The difference will be picked up by the federal government and no amount will be outstanding against us in future,” he said.
Mr Rathore said the AJK government’s power purchase agreement with Wapda for the 30.4MW Jagran-I hydroelectric project would also be revised in accordance with the tariff agreed for AJK.
Subsequently, AJK would receive additional Rs1bn per annum, he said.
The minister said Wapda would also construct two additional grid stations in AJK under the NJHP agreement.
He said the 148MW Patrind hydropower project would be commissioned in December and its powerhouse would be connected with the Rampura Grid Station along the Muzaffarabad-Srinagar highway.
It would be part of a recently completed singular network connecting the Muzaffarabad-Hattian-Bagh circuit with the southern parts of AJK, he said, adding that the line would ensure two-way flow between Mangla and the regional capital, eventually helping ameliorate loadshedding.
The minister said the AJK government was also working to initiate hydroelectric power generation projects in Neelum valley, including Jagran-II, Nagdar and Duwarian, with a total capacity of around 100MW.
These projects will start operation within five years, enabling AJK government to meet electricity requirement of Neelum, Muzaffarabad and Hattian Bala districts from indigenous resources.
Published in Dawn, January 31st, 2016