Neelum-Jhelum project resumes power generation after year-long hiatus

Published August 10, 2023
Federal Minister for Water Resources Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah unveiled a plaque on the premises of the powerhouse in Chattar Klas to mark the resumption of electricity generation from the project. — Photo courtesy: Wapda
Federal Minister for Water Resources Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah unveiled a plaque on the premises of the powerhouse in Chattar Klas to mark the resumption of electricity generation from the project. — Photo courtesy: Wapda

MUZAFFARABAD: After remaining inoperative for more than a year, the 969-meg­awatt Neelum-Jhelum Hydrop­ower Project has resumed power generation following the restoration of its tail race tunnel, Wapda said on Wednesday.

The project envisages diverting the Neelum river from Nauseri village through a 51.7km underground tunnels system — a 48.2km headrace tunnel and a 3.5km tail race tunnel — with its outfall into the Jhelum river near Zaminabad village.

The project, comprising four units of 242.25MW capacity each, started generating power after its first unit was commissioned in April 2018. The project attained its maximum installed generation in August the same year with the commissioning of all four units.

However, the power generation stopped in July last year due to a blockage caused by the collapse of a part of its tail race tunnel. Before the suspension, the project had injected more than 18 billion units of electricity into the national grid, according to a statement by Wapda.

On Wednesday, Federal Minister for Water Resources Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah pressed a button and unveiled a plaque on the premises of the powerhouse in Chattar Klas, some 20km south of Muzaffarabad, to mark the resumption of electricity generation from the project.

Mr Shah was accompanied by Federal Secretary Water Resources Hassan Nasir Jamy, Wapda Chairman Sajjad Ghani, and Joint Secretary Water Resources Syed Mehar Ali Shah, among others.

The minister, who went around different sections of the powerhouse, was briefed by the project officials. He was informed that soon after the fault occurred, a Chinese construction firm was hired to fix the issue under the supervision of consultants and guidance from international experts.

Sources said the restoration work had cost Rs3 billion.

In a brief conversation with media persons, Mr Shah appreciated Wapda, the project team, including the contractors and consultants, for completing the remedial work and subsequently restoring power generation.

“Today, 969MW of electricity has been added to the national grid, which will bring further improvement to the energy sector,” he said and asked the Wapda chief to grant bonuses to the employees stationed on the project.

The minister claimed that several other ongoing hydropower projects had made headway during the past one and a half years. He hoped that the next government would ensure the projects’ completion on time so that the country could overcome the energy crisis.

Published in Dawn, August 10th, 2023

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