Islamabad [Pakistan]November 24 (ANI): Pakistan’s National Electricity Regulatory Authority (Nepra) director general, Tauseef Farooqui, said the Neelum-Jhelum hydropower project tunnel could collapse at any moment, with disastrous consequences. warned of the possibility.
Responding to questions from senators at a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Power on Tuesday, Dawn said the biggest concern was “what would happen if the rest of the tunnel collapsed?” has reported.
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He said electricity consumers have been paying 10 billion rupees every month since the tunnel closure in July.
“If this tunnel remains closed for a year, consumers will suffer a loss of Rs 120 crore,” Nepra’s chairman told the commission.
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Senator Saifula Abloh, who chairs the committee, expressed concern about the status of the country’s major hydropower projects and asked Farooqi about the progress of the restoration work, Dawn reported.
“Work is underway to repair the damage, but there is no guarantee that the tunnel will not collapse at a later stage,” observed the Nepra chief.
Meanwhile, the project’s CEO hopes the tunnel’s repair work will be completed by June next year, Dawn reported.
He told the commission that an international team of experts had submitted two preliminary reports after inspecting the tunnel. They identified eight causes of the tunnel collapse, but were unable to draw any conclusions before the submission of the final report, Muhammad Irfan said in a statement to the Senate Committee.
Irfan reported that the root cause behind the damage was the pressure the mountains exerted on the underground tunnels, Dawn reported.
Notably, China gave up on repairing Pakistan’s 969MW Neelum-Jhelum hydropower project in September.
China had used local protests against the plant and the failure of the Pakistani police to provide credible security as an excuse, but China’s abrupt withdrawal of the project led to a rift between Pakistan and China over the joint hydropower project. A large crack appeared between them.
According to Islam Habal, the hydropower was established about three years ago at a value of Rs 508 billion. However, according to Pakistani media, differences between Pakistani and Chinese authorities over joint projects were soon witnessed on several occasions.
On the one hand, Islamabad accused the Chinese of not working properly, and the Chinese accused the Pakistani government of not paying their dues on time.
The Chinese complained of regular sporadic attacks on officials and other staff associated with major projects, including CPEC. Pakistani authorities refute the allegations by accusing the Chinese of failing to follow security protocols on the site.
In early June, Islamabad announced it would strengthen its security regime to protect the ongoing multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan economic corridor, amid reports of continued attacks on Chinese nationals in Pakistan. (Ani)
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