969MW Neelum Jhelum Project to start full generation by March 2018, PAC told

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) Chairman Lt General (retd) Muzammil Hussain Wednesday apprised the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that 969MW Neelum Jhelum Hydropower Project would start full generation by March 31, 2018.

The committee, headed by PAC Chairman Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah, reviewed audit paras of WAPDA for year 2015-16 and 2016-17.

Briefing the PAC, WAPDA chairman said filling of the dam would be started in October. Dry test of the turbine would be conducted in January while first unit would start generation in February.

He said excavation of 68 kilometer tunnels had already been completed one month ahead of its schedule completion.

He said major restructuring was carried out in the detailed design of the project aftermath of 2005 earthquake and subsequently geological survey.

WAPDA chairman said average annual water inflow in the river was recorded as 145 million acre feet (MAF), however, only 14 MAF water could be stored as Pakistan has only two major water reservoirs adding that no reservoir was built during the past 40 years.

New dams would be constructed to store water, he said and added that dams could be built at Diamer, Akori, Mohmond and Dasu etc.

The PAC was informed that WAPDA was allowed to issue bonds in 1987 for the first time. Some 10 bonds had been issued since 1987 to 2004.

WAPDA issued Sukuk bonds worth Rs8 billion for Mangla Dam raising project in 2005 and bonds worth Rs144 billion were issued in May 2017 for Dasu Dam.

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Regarding Kicchi Canal, the WAPDA chairman informed the committee that Rs 57 billion had been spent on the project and Rs 45 billion more was required for completion of its first phase.

He assured the committee that the canal would start irrigating 72000 acres of Dera Bugti by the December.

To a question, the PAC was informed that WAPDA was paying annually Rs 30-35 billion interest on loans (both local and foreign) obtained for various projects while Rs 35-40 billion was being paid for retiring the actual loans.

The PAC directed to complete Noulang and Dadu dams and Kicchi Canal on priority.

Secretary Water and Power Yousaf Naseem Khokhar apprised the PAC, power sector recovery had jumped to 93 per cent. However, the power regulator NEPRA had fixed it 100 per cent.

He said the power sector payable was Rs 379 billion by June 2017.

The committee was also briefed about transmission and distribution losses of various power distribution companies.

The PAC directed that more attention should be given to the areas of high losses and all 66KV grid station should be also closed.

The meeting was attended by MNAs Sheikh Rashid Ahmad, Rana Muhammad Afzal, Muhammad Junaid Anwar Chaudhary, Mian Abdul Manan, Arshad Khan Laghari, Sheikh Rohail Asghar, Shahida Akhtar Ali, Dr Azra Fazal, Khalid Maqbool, Naveed Qamar, Muhammad Pervaiz Malik, Sardar Ashiq Hussain Gopan, Senators Azam Khan Swati and Sherry Rehman.

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