ISLAMABAD: The caretaker Federal Cabinet on Wednesday formally approved the strategically important Neelum-Jhelum Hydro Power Project at a revised cost of Rs.128.4 billion with a foreign exchange component of Rs. 46.5 billion. The approval clears the way for the long awaited construction of the project which came Pakistan’s way following the historic Indus Basin Treaty between Pakistan and India. The Project had earlier been approved by the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet in April 2007.
Addressing the Cabinet on the occasion, Prime Minister Mohammedmian Soomro expressed the confidence that the project, which had been delayed for many years, will not only help secure Pakistan’s rights over the Neelum-Jhelum waters but also go a long way in bridging the energy gap in the country through generation of additional 969 MW of Hydel electricity which is the cheapest form of generation. The Project envisages the diversion of Neelum waters at Nosairi in Azad Kashmir. It will involve tunneling of 47 km for diversion of the water from Nosairi to the Power Station. The project will be completed in eight years. The Chinese company which has been awarded the contract has taken the job in hand.
The Neelum-Jhelum Hydro Project will be executed through a corporate company which has since been established. The debt equity ratio of the project will be around 50:50 with equity being raised through a nominal surcharge on electricity excluding three million lifeline consumers. In his remarks, Prime Minister Mohammedmian Soomro said that the Caretaker Federal and Provincial Governments need to concentrate on resolving the genuine problems of the people and make concerted efforts to ensure adequate availability of basic needs of the people.
The Prime Minister also briefed the Cabinet about his meetings with the Caretaker Provincial Chief Ministers and members of their Cabinets, and expressed satisfaction over the arrangements being made by the provincial governments to maintain law and order before and during the forthcoming general elections. He mentioned that his interaction with the representatives of various political parties has also been useful and it would facilitate in creating the conducive political climate for the forthcoming elections.
The Cabinet approved the signing of agreement between Pakistan and Hungary on abolition of visa for the nationals of the two countries holding diplomatic passports. The Cabinet also approved in principle for the signing of MOU for the export of IRRI-6 and Basmati Rice to Indonesia at government to government level.
The Prime Minister expressed concern over the lack of housing facilities for the Federal Government Employees in Islamabad and directed for the preparation of a comprehensive plan on the fast track by a Special Committee of the Cabinet to be headed by Ijaz Rahim, Caretaker Federal Minister for Health, with two members, Abbas Sarfraz Khan, Caretaker Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Northern Areas and Nisar Mohammad Khan, Caretaker Federal Minister for Housing and Works and submit its report within ten days. The Prime Minister also directed the committee to look at the availability of land for the purpose including the land owned by different organizations.-SANA