MIRPUR (AJK) - Minister of State for Water and Power Chaudhry Abid Sher Ali on Tuesday said that the government attached great importance to AJK-based Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Project as it will ensure generation of low-cost and environment-friendly electricity in the country.

The Minister of State for Water and Power expressed the views during his visit to 969 MW Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Project in Muzaffarabad AJK here. He said that all-out efforts were being made to complete the project on time in accordance with the directions of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. He said that any compromise on quality of the construction would not be tolerated, adding that in case of any breach of quality, stern action would be taken against the contractor.

Wapda Chairman Syed Raghib Abbas Shah, Chief Executive Officer Neelum Jhelum Hydropower Project Lt-Gen (r) Muhammad Zubair, representatives of the consultants and contractors and senior Wapda officers were also present on the occasion.

The Minister claimed that the present democratic government was exploring all possible avenues to resolve the energy crisis under the leadership of Premier Nawaz Sharif. He said that it was the Prime Minister’s desire that maximum relief should be provided to the common man by way of availability of affordable electricity for which the Ministry of Water and Power was particularly focusing on development of water and hydropower projects in the country.

Abid Sher Ali said that the government was focusing on optimum development of renewable sources of energy particularly hydel, coal, wind, solar and biomass. He said that the government was not only launching new projects in the hydropower sector but also taking steps to expedite the construction work on the ongoing projects. He said that the Wapda was working on a three-pronged strategy to harness the hydropower potential in the country. He said that the country possessed an identified potential of more than 60,000 MW of hydropower generation, adding that the phased induction of this potential would even out the energy mix, lower power tariff and provide relief to the common man. He said that the government wanted to start Diamer-Basha Dam and Dasu Hydropower Project simultaneously and together with Bunji Hydropower Project, adding that these projects would add a total of 15,000 MW of cheap and environment-friendly electricity to the national grid.

The Minister of State for Water and Power had a detailed round of the various sites of the Project including powerhouse, transformers hall, and the weir (dam). He also observed the operation of tunnel boring machines. Expressing his satisfaction over the pace of work of the project, the Minister said that it was his second visit to Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Project which aimed at witnessing the pace of work to make sure that the Project started generating electricity by end of 2015 as directed by the PM.

Earlier, the Wapda chairman briefed the Minister of State for Water and Power about the progress on the project. He said that the authority was making earnest efforts to complete the project in line with the directions of the Prime Minister. He said that work on all sites was progressing satisfactorily.

The Wapda chairman said that upon completion, Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Project would contribute 5.15 billion units of cheap electricity to the national grid and the annual benefits accruing from the project have been estimated at Rs45 billion. He thanked the Minister for his active role in resolving financial issues of the project.