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ISLAMABAD: Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) is to hire a Panel of Experts (PoEs) as diagnostic consultants to ascertain the reasons for the failure of 969-MW Neelum Jhelum Hydropower Project (NJHPP) as 17 international firms have not responded to Request for Proposals (RFP), sources close to Secretary Ministry of Water Resources told Business Recorder.

Briefing the second meeting of Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on terms of reference for investigation, diagnostics and remedial measures for NJHP on August 25, 2022 CEO, NJHPC Muhammad Irfan apprised the meeting that strenuous efforts have been made and the joint teams of NJHPC, Project Consultants and M/S CGGC (the project’s original contractor) have reached a blockade in the tunnel. The teams approached the blockage point, both from the outlet side using the dewatered tunnel, and from the powerhouse side, by using boats. The location and extent of the blockade has been assessed as 251 m from the powerhouse (spanning 42 m), whereas the rubble from the collapsed area was found spread along the tunnel up to chainage 570 m. He added that the NJHPC has also arranged inspection visits of two international tunnelling experts, M/S Peter Pitts and Carlos Jaramillo. Besides, Chairman NICL also visited the site pursuant to the insurance claim lodged by the NJHPC.

Regarding hiring of the contractor for remedial works, the CEO apprised that in pursuance of the decisions of the first meeting of the Inter-Ministerial Committee, M/s China Ghezouba Group Company (CGGC) was contacted, and the Company has agreed to undertake these works as a separate contract, amounting to Rs 2.5 billion plus day-work. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed with M/s CGGC in this regard, on August 22, 2022, after which the contractor has begun mobilization. Contract agreement is expected to be signed, shortly.

Regarding hiring of diagnostic consultants, the CEO stated that NJHPC forwarded Request for Proposal (RFP) to 17 international consulting firms to participate; however, none of the firms submitted proposals.

In order to proceed further, WAPDA/ NJHPC suggested to create a Panel of Experts (PoE) as diagnostic consultants, with diverse expertise and experience in tunnelling, geology, geo-tech, dam-safety and hydraulics. A list of following eleven international experts were presented to the committee: (i) Jean Launay, Master in Engineering (France); (ii) Carlos Jaramillo, MS Civil Engg (USA);(iii) Joseph, KALELONI (Swiss); (iv) Stephen James Rigbey (Canadian); (v) Dr. Reimer, Wynfrith, PhD(German);(vi) Bill Moler (USA); (vii) Dr. Cane Cekerevac PhD in Geotechnical (Swiss);(viii) Antonio Bobat (USA) ;(ix) Enrique Cifres, PhD Civil Engineering (Spanish) ;(x) Dr. Gerald Zenz, PhD( Austrian); and (xi) AlamRasheed (Pakistan).

Secretary Law and Justice, while referring to non-participation of international consulting firms in submission of their respective proposals, endorsed the alternative of creating a panel of experts and assigning them the task to diagnose/ ascertain the reasons for failure as per the ToRs approved by the Committee on July 25, 2022, as presented by NJHPC.

While responding to a query by the Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM), Dr. Jehanzeb Khan concerning the domain of responsibilities of ‘the Engineer’ and PoE, the Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources directed WAPDA to provide a flow chart of the responsibilities of all stakeholders. The SAPM also suggested to review capacity of the existing consultants being the Engineer and explore the possibility of beefing up the capacity.

After thorough deliberations, the following decisions were taken unanimously by the Committee: (i) WAPDA/ NJHPC shall proceed with hiring of PoE, as proposed by the BoD of NJHPC; (ii) ToRs of the PoE shall be the same as approved earlier by the Inter-Ministerial Committee in its meeting, held on July 25, 2022.

In July 2022, the powerhouse was shut down due to the following possible causes: (i) there is a high probability of failure of shotcrete lining leading to rock fall in the tailrace tunnel; and (ii) the high pressure noticed in the powerhouse may be attributed to such blockage created in tailrace tunnel due to possible rockfall. Tunnel dewatering started on July 10, 2022, after making necessary arrangements. As standby arrangement, spare mobile pumps were also arranged from Tarbela Dam which reached site on July 9, 2022. Truck mounted mobile dewatering pump is ready to be used in the main tunnel as clearing of mud in access tunnel has been completed on July 22, 2022. Over 15 m dewatering in the tunnel has been achieved against total 20 m. Long side tunnel and less water seepage from blockage has slowed down dewatering.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022


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