M Z Rifat
The major Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower project has been in the boiling pot since mid-1980s. But unlike much criticized, condemned, politicized and multi-purpose Kalabagh Dam, it is good to note that it has seen the light of the day and is under construction since 2008. The project, being executed underneath mountains, is even described by many as the 7th wonder because only 10 per cent of the project is on soil and the rest is underground in the shape of tunnels.
It is good to note that despite missing repeatedly extended deadlines, the major hydropower project has attained 85 per cent completion and has thus entered its terminal stage which is quite commendable, indeed. Needless to say, the cost of the project has been revised upward, also repeatedly, on account of some unforeseen problems but then its installed power generation capacity has also been substantially enhanced to 969 megawatt from original 650 megawatt.
Though it does not fall under 46 billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) umbrella like many other under-construction power plants in different parts of the country as it was already under execution even before 2014 but it is being executed by a consortium of Chinese companies and China Exim Bank is the main financier. However, the project when completed will greatly help in eliminating much lingering and inconvenient load-shedding in due course.