In the report, ‘The shocking facts of Neelum-Jhelum HEP rip-of’ appearing in this paper on Sep 2, it has been argued that the Court of International Arbitration has established India’s water rights for the Kishan Ganga Project. This objection has been raised with a particular perspective and lacks comprehension of the technical aspects.
As a matter of fact, the ruling of Court of International Arbitration provides an important safeguard for Pakistan’s right to uninterrupted water flows of the western rivers. Without this determination, Pakistan’s right would have been seriously compromised giving complete control to India of the western rivers given to Pakistan (and Azad Jammu & Kashmir in the Neelum Valley).
The Court of Arbitration’s clear interpretation prohibiting India from lowering the reservoir level below the dead storage level also provides Pakistan with strong grounds for challenging India’s conventional low-level orifice spillways in the design for sediment management and reservoir maintenance purposes.
Due to this partial award, India will not be permitted to divert water as it deems fit nor will it permanently deny Pakistan’s water requirements in lean months. The court will put in place a minimum flow regime to which India must adhere and Pakistan expects the final award to outline a monitoring process.
The final decision is expected in December before which both countries were asked to submit flow data by June.
Under the present situation, if Kishan Ganga Project is completed, there would be 10 to 13 percent loss in power generation and Neelum Jhelum Hydroelectric Power Project (NJHEP) will still be a financially/ economically viable and attractive Project.
The argument that NJHEP will generate most expensive electricity is not true. Due to increase in scope of works, cost of the project has increased from Rs. 84.5 billion to Rs. 274.88 billion. However, it is on record that execution of the project could not start due to lack of funds. When funds were made available in 2007, the tenders were awarded and the work started in January 2008.
After the start of construction work, the newly appointed consultants reviewed the design and made the following changes, which have resulted in escalation of cost:
i Increase in cross sectional area of
i Lining of tunnels to eliminate head loss.
i Shallow Jhelum River Crossing for
natural draining of tunnel through
power house to avoid long shutdowns
as required during the maintenance works.
i Change in the height and design of
dam to increase reservoir capacity,
pass Probable Maximum Flood without
overtopping and eliminate peaking
storage in tunnel.
i The cost of the project has also
increased due to variation in Dollar
Exchange Rate, additional cost incurred
for providing security and uninterrupted
power supply at site, etc.
The contention that the project is economically not viable is based on lack of information. Despite cost escalation, the project is economically and financially viable.
The question has been raised regarding the present design of Neelum Jhelum Project in which Headrace Tunnel crosses under river Jhelum having steel lining. The said article supports the previous design prepared by the consultants before year 2000 in which the Neelum River water was to be disposed in the upper limb of river Jhelum through a tunnel. Following construction of a diversion dam and a tunnel, the water was to be disposed in the lower limb of river Jhelum. With this arrangement a total of 1500 MW of electricity was to be generated.
WAPDA’s expert and consultants reviewed this design setup. According to revised setup, Neelum River is being diverted through a diversion dam and a 48 km-long tunnel, which passes under river Jhelum, and Power House near the lower limb of River Jhelum will generate 969 MW. Moreover through another project, i.e., Kohala Hydropower Project, the water available in upper limb of river Jhelum will be diverted through a diversion darn and a tunnel. Power House located near Kohala will generate 1100 MW.
It has been contended that no Pakistani technicians/engineers have been trained at site. This is again baseless allegation. At present, about 3,800 personnel are working with the Contractor. Out of which, about 3,000 are Pakistanis who are working with the latest construction machinery like TBM.
A number of questions have been raised about the cost of the project, projecting it to be US$ 5 billion. As mentioned above, ECNEC in its meeting held on July 04, 2013 approved 2nd Revised PC-1 for Rs. 274 billion. Considering one US dollar being equal to Rs. 100, the cost in US dollar becomes 2.74 billion. Thus, the allegation is completely baseless.
The article raised the concern that this project will not generate 969 MW of electricity, in this regard, the design changes were made by the Consultants to make sure that the project generates 969 MW of electricity.
Chairman WAPDA and the project authorities are pursuing the matter with the concerned quarters to ensure laying of the transmission lines on time. About 48 percent overall work has been completed including excavation of 58 percent tunnels. The above facts must set the record straight and allay any confusion and misperception about the Neelum Jhelum Hydroelectric Power Project.