ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has inaugurated the first unit of a key hydropower mega project built with the financial and technical support of China in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
The 969 MW Neelum Jehlum Hydropower Project near Muzaffarabad was announced more than 12 years ago but work on it lingered on until ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif vowed in 2013 to build it before the end of five-year tenure of his government.
Though Sharif stepped down last year after disqualification by the Supreme Court his nominee and successor, Abbasi, yesterday lauded his vision and efforts for the project.
“Only 10 per cent work was done when former prime minister (Sharif) decided to complete it. If we have succeeded it is due to his vision and efforts,” Abbasi said.
As the project was delayed, the cost climbed to USD 5 billion, a three-fold increase to the initial estimates, Abbasi said, adding the project would be fully operational before the end of this year.
Abbasi thanked China for support and also paid tribute to 21 workers who died while working on the project.
Abbasi further said that government added about 10,400 MW power into the system in five years and addressed the chronic power shortage.
Pakistan-occupied Kashmir Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider addressing on the occasion demanded that 250 MW of electricity from project should be dedicated to PoK to end energy crisis.
Earlier, chief of Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda), Muzammil Hussain, said the NJHPP was conceived some three decades ago but the work was started only after it became evident that India was planning to build Kishanganga project.
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