The Finance Ministry has reportedly requested the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to allow diversion of Rs 5 billion from Diamer-Bhasha Dam to Neelum-Jhelum power project, it was learnt. Sources said that Neelum-Jhelum hydel project is facing a funding constraint and the government has been requested to provide Rs 2 billion monthly as interim arrangement for smooth running of the project till some loan arrangements are made.
The timely completion of the project would add around 967MW electricity to the system. Sources said the Ministry of Water and Power has requested the government for funding and the Finance Division requested the ECP to allow them to divert Rs 5 billion allocated for Diamer-Basha Dam in the current fiscal year for Neelum Jhelum project as more than half of the work on the project has been completed and availability of funds would enable the executing authorities to complete the project on time. An official also noted that it was decided by the previous government that projects which are near completion would be completed on priority basis.
Given the energy crisis in the country and pressing need to balance the energy mix by ensuring early completion of hydel power project, Finance Ministry has urged the ECP to allow it to divert funds allocated for other projects which are not being executed in the current fiscal year to Neelum-Jhelum project. They said Rs 10 billion Sukuk Bond which was to be issued for Diamer-Basha Dam may now be considered for Neelum-Jhelum hydel project.
The ban on diversion of fund was imposed by the Election Commission of Pakistan after former Prime Minister began diverting funds from different development schemes to People”s Works Programme (PWP-I-II). The ECP vide its notification dated 22-01-2013 imposed restriction on diversion of funds.
About the current progress on Neelum-Jhelum hydel project, sources said that about 42 percent physical progress on the project has been achieved and around 26.7 kms out of 63.6 kms of excavation has been achieved in the headrace tunnel and edits. They said that for the construction of the Dam at Nauseri, Neelum River was successfully diverted through a Diversion Tunnel on October 15, 2011 and work on Nauseri Bridge has been completed and handed over to the AJ&K government.
They said that major design changes required as a result of 2005 earthquake and other technical reasons have been finalised and now the revised drawings have been prepared accordingly. About 64.01% work on Power House Excavation, 58.18 percent work on Transformer Hall excavation and 100 percent work on Penstock excavation has been completed.