ISLAMABAD: Amid electricity shortage and heavy load shedding through out country, the 969-megawatt Neelum-Jhelum hydropower project has been closed due to major cracks in its tailrace tunnel.
The hydropower project was completed at an estimated approved cost of about Rs508 bn.
Power Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan confirmed at a presser that thorough investigations were currently under way of all its channels, which are deep and long, some of them under huge mountains. The Neelum-Jhelum project’s construction was taken in hand in 2002 after 21 years of delay and completed in April 2018 — again with repeated cost overruns and missed deadlines.
Major construction including about 58 kilometres of tunnels was done by Chinese contractor, hired in December 2007.
Despite its installed capacity of 969MW, the project has often exceeded its production level, touching 1,040MW.
“The reasons for the closure of the tailrace tunnel are currently being investigated. Steps would be taken to remove the blockade of the tailrace once the reasons are known,” Wapda said in a statement.
CM Punjab Hamza Shehbaz had on Monday announced free electricity for households consuming up to 100 units from July under “Punjab Chief Minister Roshan Gharana Programme”.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday suspended Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz’s Roshan Gharana Programme — which aimed to provide free electricity to poor households — till July 17 when by-elections will be held on 20 Punjab Assembly seats.