In the midst of a nationwide electricity shortage, the 969-megawatt Neelum-Jhelum hydropower project, which was completed at an estimated sanctioned cost of over Rs508 billion, has been shut down due to major cracks in its tailrace tunnel.
“Unfortunately, Neelum-Jhelum is not accessible. Electricity Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan said during a news conference that details of its suspension or malfunction had not yet been resolved. He added that thorough examinations were being conducted on all of its routes, some of which were hidden behind massive mountains and were long and deep.
After 21 years of waiting, the project’s construction finally began in 2002, and it was finished in April 2018 despite numerous cost overruns and missed deadlines. Chinese developer CGGC-CMEC (Gezhouba Group), contracted in December 2007, completed significant construction involving 58 kilometers of tunnels.
The project’s production has frequently exceeded its capacity factor of 969 MW, reaching 1,040 MW. It was supplying the national grid with much more around five billion kWh, or units of electricity, each year at an average cost of around Rs 9 without incurring any fuel costs.
The project’s “tailrace tunnel has been obstructed and as a result, the power station has indeed been closed for safety concerns,” the Water supply And Sewerage Authority (Wapda), which manages hydroelectric plants, later stated.