Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Friday (Apr 13) inaugurated 242MW first unit of the of 969 MW Neelum Jehlum Hydropower Project (NJHPP) near Azad Jammu and Kahsmir’s (AJK) capital.
As he was speaking at the event, the apex court decision disqualifying former prime minister Nawaz Sharif for life was out. He took opportunity to comment on the judgment: “People of Pakistan are the only arbitrators to decide who is qualified to lead them.”
Referring to the upcoming general elections, he said: “The people of Pakistan will have an opportunity in July this year to give their verdict about their leadership through their votes.”
Talking with reference to the NJHPP, the prime minister said the project was a big challenge for the present government when it came into power in 2013. Only 10-12 per cent work had been done at that time and there had also been discussion in meetings to abandon this project.
“But [the former prime minister] Nawaz Sharif took interest and project has become operational now. Around $5 billion have been spent on this project and its cost is three times higher according to regional estimates due to change in design following earthquake in 2005,” he added.
Conceived some thirty years back, the NJHPP, now dubbed the most expensive power project of Pakistan, was delayed for a variety of reasons resulting in three-fold increase in its cost. However, the first unit of the project is now completed.
Describing the project as an emblem of Pakistan-China friendship, he said the hydropower generation project will significantly contribute to the existing energy crisis in the country. The PM also paid glowing tributes to the 21 workers who lost their lives during the completion of the project.