Neelum-Jhelum Project Becomes the World’s Most Expensive Hydel Project Ever

The Central Development Working Party (CDWP) has approved 31 projects worth a staggering Rs 713 billion and with that the Neelum-Jhelum hydropower project has become one of the most overbudget and delayed power projects in the world. The cost of electricity from the project is said to cost an unbelievable Rs 13 per unit while the project cost will cross the Rs 500 billion mark.

The CDWP gave its approval for more funds for the Neelum-Jhelum hydropower project which will make it the most expensive hydel project undertaking in history.

Eight proposed projects – worth Rs 694.8 billion – were sent to Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC) for review.


The CDWP laid out the following projects;

  • 220 KV Jauharabad substation: The project will cost Rs 3.2 billion after ECNEC approves it.
  • The project for evacuation of 2160MW power from hydropower projects at Rs 75.9 billion cost.
  • 184 km long Faisalabad-Khanewal motorway to be built at a cost of Rs 60.8 billion after ECNEC’s approval.
  • Construction design revision of Lahore-Sialkot motorway set to be connected with Narang Mandi and Narowal Eastern Bypass.
  • Two projects worth Rs 3.3 billion approved in the food and agriculture sector.
  • PTV Terrestrial Digital DTMB Demonstration Project approved at a cost of Rs 2.8 billion.
  • Rs 2 billion approved for building different hospitals in Afghanistan.

CDWP also approved several billion-rupee projects in Captain Safdar’s constituency against Election Commission of Pakistan’s ban on new schemes as well.

Neelum-Jhelum Project

Just like the new Islamabad International Airport project, this one explains the governments’ incompetency and carelessness in completing a project as per schedule and in a proper manner. The airport project finally seems to be completed, but its hard to estimate how many more decades the hydel project will take.

The initial proposal date for this project goes back to 1989 where it was approved at Rs 15.3 billion cost. The authorities’ lack of seriousness kicked in and the project continued facing delays.

In 2015, the project’s cost was revised from Rs 275 billion to stand at a huge Rs 404 billion. In the meantime, the national treasury held the burden of all cost overruns over past three decades. The government has now extended the timeline for the project to June 2018.

Now, after another two years, the cost of the project has been revised upwards yet again to Rs 500.3 billion. The CDWP also approved Rs 100 million for hiring consultants regarding the approval of the project.

Once completed, the electricity coming from the project won’t be cheap. According to current estimates, it will cost Rs 13 per unit, which is more expensive than any other water project in the country and higher than the international cost per unit for water, solar, wind, nuclear and water sourced power projects.

Saad Ur Rehman Saadi
Saad Ur Rehman Saadi

My name is Saad ur Rehman, and I hold a M.Sc (Hons.) in Agronomy and MA in Journalism. I am currently serving as an Agriculture Officer in the Agriculture Extension Department. I have previously worked with Zarai Tarqiati Bank as an MCO. With my education in agriculture and journalism, I am able to effectively communicate issues that affect farmers' daily lives. In recognition of my community and literary services, I was awarded a gold medal by the government.

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