China abandons Pakistan’s Neelum-Jhelum hydropower project over non-payment of dues

In a major setback for Pakistan, China has abandoned repairs to the 969 megawatt Neelum-Jhelum mega hydropower project, leaving much of the country in the dark at a time when the country is already struggling to meet its electricity needs. electricity amid floods. According to a Pakistan-based media outlet, the hydropower project is based in Pakistani-occupied Kashmir and has been shut down since early July this year. Initially, it was closed due to an energy crisis, but later several reasons were given for the closure, including waiting for dues.

The Chinese gave local protests against the plant and the Pakistani police’s failure to provide credible security as excuses, however, China’s sudden reversal of the project created a major rift between Pakistan and China over joint hydroelectric projects. According to Islam Khabar, hydroelectricity was created about three years ago at a value of 508 billion rupees. However, soon the differences between the Pakistani and Chinese authorities on joint projects repeatedly surfaced, according to Pakistani media.

The Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA), which operates hydropower plants, also confirmed that the project has been blocked and the power station has been closed for safety reasons. On the one hand, Islamabad accused the Chinese of not working properly, the Chinese accused the Pakistani government of not paying dues on time. In the meeting with WAPDA and Chinese officials, the former highlighted slow progress despite deadline extensions, substandard construction quality, and poor supervision and management. The Chinese have complained of regular sporadic attacks on their officials and other personnel related to major projects, including the CPEC. Pakistani authorities contradict the claims by accusing the Chinese of not following security protocols at the site.

Pakistan had promised to strengthen the security of Chinese officials

Earlier in June, amid reports of continued attacks on Chinese nationals in Pakistan, Islamabad announced enhanced security arrangements to protect the multi-billion-dollar China-Pakistan economic corridor. According to a report by The News International, the Pakistani police are setting up a foreign security cell at the Central Police Office (CPO) with the necessary personnel and logistics. According to the report, the Special Service, the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) and the Security Division were tasked with periodically checking the security arrangements.
The development came nearly two weeks after a delegation led by Cheng Guoping, China’s external security commissioner, visited Islamabad and asked Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to provide better security arrangements for their citizens. who have been involved in the CPEC project. Afterwards, Sharif proclaimed that his government was committed to providing the highest level of security to all Chinese institutions and nationals working on various projects in the country.

Image: AP/Unsplash

Valerie J. Wallis