MUZAFFARABAD, March 28: 'No Objection Certificate' (NoC) given by Azad Jammu and Kashmir Environmental Protection Agency (AJK-EPA) to Wapda for construction of Neelum-Jhelum Hydroelectric Project (NJHP) would be key issue of agreement between AJK government and Wapda on the project, it was learnt on Wednesday.

AJK-EPA issued the certificate or 'conditional environmental approval' to Wapda in January last year for 969MW project that environmentalists believe have serious hazards for the environment and ecology of the area. The NOC covered social, economic, biological and physical aspects of the environment.

However, sources said, clause 3.2 of draft agreement, sent to the AJK law department for vetting, mentioned only compensation flow of 15 cumecs whereas the remaining issues were not properly addressed. AJK EPA made it clear to all the authorities concerned that under the AJK's Environmental Legal and Enforcement Framework, it was obligatory for Wapda to comply with all conditions of the NOC, warning that non-compliance could culminate in unilateral withdrawal of NOC without any prior notice. Dawn

When contacted, AJK EPA Director General Irshad Ahmad Qureshi confirmed to that Wapda had agreed to include AJK-EPA's conditions in the agreement which, he said, was most likely to be signed by mid-April.