The 969-megawatt Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Project, which had been inactive for more than a year, has resumed electricity generation following the restoration of its tail race tunnel, according to Wapda.
The project proposes diverting the Neelum River from Nauseri village via a 51.7km underground tunnel system — a 48.2km headrace tunnel and a 3.5km tailrace tunnel — with an outfall into the Jhelum River at Zaminabad village.
The project, which consists of four units of 242.25MW capacity each, began generating power in April 2018 after the first unit was commissioned. With the commissioning of all four units in August of the same year, the project reached its maximum installed generation.
However, the power generation stopped in July last year due to a blockage caused by the collapse of a part of its tail race tunnel. Before the suspension, the project had injected more than 18 billion units of electricity into the national grid, according to a statement by Wapda.
On Wednesday, Federal Minister for Water Resources Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah pressed a button and unveiled a plaque on the premises of the powerhouse in Chattar Klas, some 20km south of Muzaffarabad, to mark the resumption of electricity generation from the project.
Mr Shah was accompanied by Federal Secretary Water Resources Hassan Nasir Jamy, Wapda Chairman Sajjad Ghani, and Joint Secretary Water Resources Syed Mehar Ali Shah, among others.
The minister was briefed by project officials as he toured various portions of the power plant. He was informed that shortly after the fault developed, a Chinese construction business was recruited to repair the problem under the supervision of consultants and with the assistance of foreign experts.
According to sources, the restoration work cost Rs3 billion.
In a brief interview with the media, Mr Shah praised Wapda and the project team, which included contractors and consultants, for finishing the remedial work and restoring electricity generation.
“Today, 969MW of electricity has been added to the national grid, which will bring further improvement to the energy sector,” he stated, requesting that the Wapda chairman award incentives to the project’s staff.
Several other active hydropower projects, according to the minister, have made progress in the last year and a half. He hoped that the incoming government would ensure that the projects were completed on time, allowing the country to solve its energy issue.