Key plant will take six more months to repair, NA told.

ISLAMABAD -- The federal government on Monday revealed that the Rs500 billion 969MW Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Project, which faced a 'massive structural damage of tunnel collapse' in July, would take at least six more months to be repaired.

'There are cracks inside the mountain...This is a major damage,' Prime Minister's Adviser on Kashmir Affairs Qamar Zaman Kaira told the National Assembly on Monday in the first official comment on the extent of damage caused to the main tunnel.

In reply to a supplementary question by Shagufta Jumani, Mr Kaira, who was responding on behalf of the minister for water resources, said the tender had been awarded to a Chinese firm for completion of repair works in six months, but there could be delays as damage on the site was found to be greater than assessed earlier.

He explained that since the 51km tunnel in Azad Kashmir was under peculiar growing mountains, and not solid rock structure, companies were not ready to participate in the tender to go inside.

Neelum-Jhelum project suffered 'massive damage' in July

He did not respond to the question whether or not repair works were guaranteed under the original contract and if the government would have to bear the additional costs.

In a written reply, the ministry of water resources said that a fault had developed in the Neelum-Jhelum plant on July 4 this year, leaving the powerhouse dysfunctional.

The project was commissioned in 2018 and had since been working satisfactorily with power generation of 18.28 billion units.

However, on July 4, when the plant was running at its full capacity (969MW), an abnormal increase in water leakage was observed which was controlled through continuous drainage pumps and an investigation into the excessive leakage was started.

On July 5, an emergency meeting was held between the project management and the project consultants team to analyse the situation and determine the root cause of excessive water leakage. It was observed that tailrace tunnel had obtained an abnormal pressure of 616m instead of the normal 600m. It was also pointed out by the project consultants that abnormal pressure of 616m in the TRT (tailrace tunnel) had been recorded which otherwise remained below 600 meter.

Accordingly, to ascertain behaviour of TRT, one unit was shut down which resulted in decrease in pressure to 608m. The consultants recommended that TRT pressure should be below 604m. In this way, load was reduced gradually.

On July 6, it was determined...

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