Neelum-Jhelum project hits snags
20 August 2007
The News International
Islamabad: The Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower project with a capacity to generate 969MW of electricity has hit snags with regard to acquisition of the required land. It is, therefore, feared that projects completion will be further delayed, jeopardising Pakistans bid to harness water priority rights of Neelum River, which originates from India. In the new development, the AJK chief secretary has informed the federal government about his inability to acquire land for the project in the wake of the rising prices. The Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower project has already been delayed for more than eight years. Further delay on the part of Pakistan government would enable India to easily manage to have the water priority rights of River Neelum under the 1960 Indus Water Treaty. The Neelum river is called Ganga in India where Kishanganga hydropowers project. is being built. Under the Treaty, the country first completing the hydel project on the Neelum river (Ganga river) would automatically gain the priority water rights. The official said that AJK government had imposed the section 4 for six months to cease the prices at one level to acquire the land, but failed to acquire the required land in the stipulated time and the 6- month time has elapsed. Now the landlords have increased the prices manifold thats why land acquisition process has come to standstill. The government needs 2,500 canals for the powerhouse, out of the required land; the process of acquiring 1123 canals is under process. For the acquisition of the remaining land, the local people have increased the cost of the land manifold owing to which the process of acquiring land has come to standstill. The AJK chief secretary has asked the federal government to increase the cost of land and compensation to the affected people. It is pertinent to mention that Wapda has transferred Rs 336 million to AJK government but in the changed scenario, Wapda will have to deposit more money to AJK government for acquiring the remaining land whose cost have increased by the people manifold. The contract for this vital project has been awarded to a Chinese consortium, comprising China Gezhouba and the CMEC China, at Rs 90.90 billion ($1.5 billion) on March 9 2007. The letter of acceptance was issued on July7, 2007. However the legal formalities are still underway for entering into the legal agreement between the government of Pakistan government and the joint venture of China Gezhouba and the CMEC China. The official hoped that the agreement between the parties to the project would be inked on October 7. To a question the official said that the government has allocated Rs 10 billion for the said project during the current fiscal year 200-08. The Neelum-Jhelum Hydroelectric Project Company (NJHPC) has been made to complete and run the project to ensure water priority rights of Neelum river that comes from India. The company will be arranging the financing amounting to Rs 47.089 billion and the federal cabinet that is to meet on Wednesday would accord approval to this. The total cost of the project has been estimated at Rs 90.885 billion out of which the foreign component valuing Rs 47.089 billion will be arranged. The Neelum-Jhelum hydropower project is proposed on the Neelum river. India is reported to have completed 60-65 per cent construction of Kishanganga hydropower project, but Pakistans authorities concerned so far have miserably failed to initiate the Neelum-Jhelum hydropower power project.