ISLAMABAD -  A parliamentary committee yesterday showed its disappointment over the delay in the completion of Neelum Jhelum Hydro Project and expressed apprehension that with current pace of work it seems impossible to complete the project by next February.

“Every time the Ministry of Water and Power offers lollypop on Neelum Jhelum Hydro Project but has failed to meet all the previous deadlines,” said Abdul Majeed Khan Khanan Khail, Chairman National Assembly Standing Committee on Planning, Development and Reforms here.

The committee meeting with Abdul Majeed Khan Khanan Khail in the chair discussed the progress of different Hydro Power Project, including Neelum Jhelum Hydro Power Project, Chitral Hydel Power Station and Golan Gol Hydro Power Project and directed the concerned authorities to ensure their completion within scheduled timeframe.

The committee was informed that Rs50 billion was collected from the consumers, as a Neelum Jhelum surcharge. The Ministry of Water and Power informed that due to earthquake, the dam design was altered which has increased the total cost and duration of the project.

During meeting, the committee members showed concern over the unnecessary delay in the completion of Neelum Jhelum Hydro Power Project.

The intake Neelum-Jhelum is at Nauseri 41km east of Muzaffarabad and has installed capacity of 969mw. The project was originally estimated to cost Rs130 billion in 2007, which went up to Rs275 billion in 2012, partly because of changes in specifications arising out of geographical changes following the devastating earthquake of 2005. Soon after assuming the charge as Prime Minister in 2013, Nawaz Sharif issued directives for its completion by December 2015. But later due to funds shortage, the project was delayed which has resulted in further escalation of cost to Rs404 billion. The deadline for the completion was rescheduled twice first to the end of 2016 and then to the first quarter of 2017.

MNA Sheikh Salahuddin said that removal of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Neelum Jhelum project by the government during mid of a project also gave rise to several questions.

It is also matter of grave concern that the concerned officials are not aware of targets of Neelum Jhelum Hydro Project, said MNA Jaffar Iqbal.

While showing his disappointment over the delay and slow pace of work on the project, chairman committee pointed out that this project should have been completed much earlier. “With current pace of work, it seems impossible that the project will meet the new deadline,” Khanan Khail remarked. Earlier the deadline for the completion of Neelum Jhelum Project was September 2016 but has now been extended to February 2017, he said.

The official of the Planning Ministry informed the committee that the Lowari Tunnel and Neelum Jhelum Transmission lines will be completed by the mid of next year. It was also informed that the PC-I of Bridge connecting Kallur Kot to D.I. Khan will be completed by December, 2016.

MNAs Ch.Jaffar Iqbal, Nadeem Abbas Rabaira, Shaza Fatima Khawaja, Shaheen Shafiq, Shazia Farid, Shamas-un-Nisa, Junaid Akbar, Sheikh Salahuddin, Asyia Nasir, Sher Akber Khan, Iftikhar-ud-Din and officials of Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform, Ministry of Water & Power and M/o Communications attended the meeting.