ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly was informed on Thursday that Neelum-Jhelum Hydro Power Plant (NJHEP) would start functioning in January 2018 as it reaches 96 per cent completion.
“The government has allocated Rs 19 billion in the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) 2017-18 for the project and around 96 per cent work has already been completed,” State Minister Chaudhry Jaffar Iqbal said during a question-answer session. He said non-availability of timely funds remained a major cause of delay in the commencement and completion of the plant.
The minister said WAPDA began work on the project after provision of Rs 5.2 billion cash development loan with an arrangement of Neelum-Jhelum surcharge from the government of Pakistan.
He said the government proceeded on arranging foreign and local loans from December 2009 to December 2016.”However, no lender was ready to finance the NJHEP except the Middle Eastern lenders.”
Later, China’s Exim Bank agreed to initially finance the project with $ 448 million in January 2014, and then by giving a second loan of $ 576 million in February 2017.
Due to increase in cost with the passage of time, the financial close was still not achieved despite the latest arrangement of funds of Sukuk of Rs 100 billion and Exim Bank loan of $ 576 million by the government.
Answering a question, he said the government was working on 60 different schemes to build water reservoirs to meet the country’s increasing needs.
Replying to another question, the minister said construction of the main dam of the Diamer-Bhasha Dam still lagged due to lack of finances. However, land acquisition, construction of infrastructure and preliminary works, like project colony in Thor Valley, Composite Model Village II at Harpan Das were in process, he added.
In order to prepare financing strategy for the project, a committee had been constituted by the Ministry of Water Resources, which would submit recommendations to the Cabinet Committee on Energy for approval.