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ISLAMABAD: The Cabinet Committee on Energy (CCoE) is likely to allow Ministry of Water and Resources to undertake water supply project to Muzaffarabad (AJ&K) due to Neelum Jhelum Hydropower project, sources told Business Recorder.

Sharing the details, the sources said, pursuant to the diversion of Neelum River from Nauseri for power generation under 969MW Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Project (NJHPP), the downstream river flows reduced drastically up to the Muzaffarabad city.

This reduction in flows unleashed several adverse environmental impacts in terms of, inter alia, deterioration of the river water quality and reduction in water supply for Muzaffarabad city.

Mega Karachi water supply project: Wapda chief reviews construction progress

Taking notice of the above situation, the Prime Minister of AJ&K approached the Prime Minister of Pakistan, on September 07, 2018 for looking into the matter. It was followed by a meeting of Prime Minister of Pakistan and Prime Minister of AJ&K on October 09, 2018.

Accordingly, the Prime Minister’s Office, on October 09, 2018, conveyed the orders of the Prime Minister that Secretary Water Resources (MoWR) in consultation with Chairman WAPDA and Government of AJ&K shall furnish a report on the issue after jointly visiting the NJHPP along with relevant technical officials and verifying the actual discharge downstream.

In compliance, MoWR, in a letter of January 02, 2019, furnished its report initially to the PM’s Office and subsequently on the directions of the PM’s Office to the CCoE.

The CCoE, on August 28, 2019 approved recommendations of the report which inter-alia included “comprehensive environmental study to determine the e-flow should be conducted on the similar line as was conducted by Government of Pakistan for contesting its case against India’s Kishenganga Hydroelectric Plant on the same river in 2012.

The study needs to be conducted by hiring the international consultants of the repute. Government of AJ&K will execute the study with Federal funding and Ministry of Water Resources will be the sponsor“.

In compliance, Government of AJ&K prepared a PC-II for the study at an estimated cost of Rs 36.8 million. The DDWP of MoWR, in its meeting held on March 30, 2021, approved the PC-II and authorized Chairman DDWP to approve the revised cost of the project based on realistic implementation time frame as and when the Government of AJ&K would submit the updated PC-II to the MoWR.

Subsequently, the Government of AJ&K expressed its inability to execute this study owing to the capacity constraints and requested MoWR to spearhead the procurement process as well as award of contract.

Accordingly, MoWR prepared updated PC-II of the project at an estimated cost of Rs 341.24 million which was approved by the DDWP on May 26, 2022 at a rationalized cost of Rs 334.36 million. As per updated PC-II, sponsoring and executing agency of the project is Ministry of Water Resources.

The CCoE’s decision of August 28, 2019, envisaged execution of the project through Government of AJ&K. However, in view of Government of AJ&K’s request to MoWR for spearheading the project, owing to capacity constraints, the CCoE will consider allowing MoWR to execute the project, in accordance with the approved PC-II.

ToRS for the study have also been finalised by the MoWR, in consultation with the Government of AJ&K and WAPDA, which inter alia include determination of environmental flow (E-flow), study for construction of comprehensive sewerage treatment and disposal system, biodiversity management plan, feasibility study of water supply for Muzaffarabad city along with water quality management plan and feasibility for construction of water bodies/cascades etc.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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