MIRPUR (AJK) -  In what can be described a significant development towards completion of the strategically important 969 MW-Neelum Jhelum Hydropower Project, the Wapda has completed excavation of left tunnel - one of the critical components of the project, officials declared on Sunday.

The Muzaffarabad-based project management achieved this milestone today when it successfully connected the two portions of the left tunnel with an amazing precision. During its mining operation, one of the two tunnel boring machines (TBMs) broke through the left tunnel from downstream side joining it with the portion which had already been excavated through traditional drill-and-blast method from the upstream side.

With this development, the left tunnel system from dam to powerhouse stands excavated. The right tunnel system is scheduled to be excavated by April 2017. Thereafter, the water way system would go for final phase of completion. Once this is done, the project will be ready for pressurising the tunnel system, culminating into wet testing i.e. electricity generation from the project, which is expected in early 2018.

To mark the landmark achievement, the Neelum Jhelum Hydropower Project (NJHP) management arranged a simple ceremony at the breakthrough site, inside the tunnel, wherein Wapda Chairman (r) Lt-Gen Muzammil Hussain performed the connectivity of the two sections of the left tunnel. The NJHP Chief Executive Officer, Project Director and representatives of the consultants and the contractors were also present on the occasion.

Greeting the project management, Lt-Gen (r) Muzammil Hussain said that the NJHP is an important project to overcome electricity shortages in the country. He expressed the hope that with concerted efforts of the Wapda, the project will be completed well in time.

Mr Hussain apprised the audience that with a view to complete the remaining works of critical nature, targets have been set by rationalising their timelines, while an effective mechanism is also now in place to closely monitor the progress on the project.