This refers to the news story published on 24 August about Neelum-Jhelum hydropower project, “Chinese contractor threatens to halt work”. I think they are justified to do so because the Government of Pakistan has not honoured their contract. It is a fact that the work on Neelum–Jhelum Hydropower Project of 969 MW, which is a symbol of Pakistan-China strategic partnership, has almost come to a halt due to non-payment of funds to Chinese companies for more than one year by our government. Consequently, Chinese Companies also failed to pay Pakistani sub-contractors and suppliers even in some cases for the last two years. The cessation of work has created financial dilemma for Chinese companies and Pakistani suppliers and sub-contractors who have obtained funds from banks.

The main reasons for our failure to complete this mega-project are significant delays caused by funding issues, poor planning and lack of national will to complete it before India' Kishanganga Hydroelectric Project. Unfortunately, our ruler’s self-interests were more important than construction of this national project. What a shame, our previous rulers managed to spend 30-40 billion rupees in their constituencies but failed to arrange Rs.10-20 billion for this project in a year.

Unfortunately, an International Court of Arbitration has already ruled in favour of India on the Kishanganga hydroelectric project and upheld India’s right to divert water from the hydroelectric project to Kashmir. However, water storage priority right will be decided by early completion of project by Pakistan or India as per Indus Water Treaty. Therefore, Neelum-Jhelum project’s early completion is of immense importance to Pakistan to avoid a permanent loss of Rs. 30-35 billion per annum forever if it failed to construct before India. Moreover, its early completion will also positively contribute toward reduction of loadshedding by providing 1000Mw cheap electricity.

Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif is according great importance to completion of this project by not only visiting the project site, immediately after taking over as Prime Minister, but he has also directed the authorities concerned to ensure completion of the project one year ahead of schedule. Prime Minister’s meeting with the Chinese officials and energy firms has been a massive triumph on the energy front and a step in the right direction to solve the persistent energy crisis. It is a fact that non-provision of funds to this national project has not only delayed the project but is also sending a very negative message to foreign investors in general and Chinese investors in particularly.

Unfortunately, our fund managers have failed to accord the due priority which this project warranted. In my opinion provision of Rs. 24 billion to this national project was more important than payment of Rs.480 billion to get rid of the circular debt to reduce loadshedding. I would, therefore, beg the PM to provide funds immediately to save the project and send a positive message to all foreign investors.

M.M. HUSSAIN,

Lahore, August 25.