|Hydroelectric Power Potential in South Asia Source: Economist Magazine|
This hydroelectric project, first formally announced by former Minister Omar Ayub on June 10, 2007, is finally starting in earnest under the PPP government of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani. Prior to this project, the new Pakistani Prime Minister signed a deal with a Chinese company, Dong Fong, for setting up 525 MW thermal power plant with an investment of $450 million at Chichoki Mallian (Sheikhupura). Both of these projects are expected help partially close the 3000 MW gap that exists today between supply and demand in Pakistan.
The Joint Venture, Neelum-Jhelum Consultants, lead by MWH and consisting of MWH, Pakistani firms NESPAK, ACE and NDC, and Norwegian firm NORPLAN, will provide design, construction drawing preparation and construction management services for the next eight years.
Located in the Muzaffarabad District in the state of Azad Jammu Kashmir, approximately 85 miles (138 kilometers) from Islamabad, Pakistan, the Neelum-Jhelum project is one of several major projects planned to increase Pakistan's hydroelectric generation capabilities to meet the growing energy needs of the country. The project is part of the Pakistani government's "Vision 2025 Program," envisaged to improve energy development in the country. In addition, Neelum-Jhelum is a priority project in Pakistan's Indus Basic Water Treaty with India. This project has been in the works for eight years but delayed due to various problems including the land acquisition costs in Azad Kashmir. Any further delays would jeopardize Pakistan's right to the water from Neelum river (Called Ganga in India) under the Treaty with India.
In the late 1960s, MWH helped to develop and implement Pakistan's Indus Basin Project. It was the result of a treaty between Pakistan and India, which ended a long and bitter dispute between the two countries over the use of water from the Indus River and its five tributaries. The first large dam built as part of the Indus Basin Project was the Mangla Dam, completed in 1968. An essential part of the project is the MWH -- designed spillway for a 1.1 million cubic feet per second discharge. The company provides water, wastewater, energy, natural resource, program management, consulting and construction services to industrial, municipal and government clients in the Americas, Europe, Middle East, India, Asia and the Pacific Rim.
Both power and water projects are crucial for Pakistan's economy in the intermediate and long term. The challenge for the Pakistani government is to make up for the neglect of several years in the power and water sector. It means that the government must ensure that the water and power projects get started and stay on schedule to begin to address the growing shortage of water and electricity in Pakistan.