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Ashkot Hydropower Project - Introduction

Neelum River and Valley

The Neelum River is the largest tributary in Jhelum river basin. It originates out of glacial melts from surrounding mountain peaks. The River is famous for ice cold water and trout fish. The origin of the River name is not clear but it most likely derives its name either due to its sky color water or due to the precious stone “ruby (Neelum)” that is found in this area.

High specific discharge and steep gradient of the river below Dudhnial offers promising sites for hydropower development. Of particular interest are those spots where the riverbed drops by 5-20 meter over a short length forming rapids. These rapids offer opportunities of hydropower development by damming the flow to further raise the natural head. Depending upon the height of dam, a low head – high discharge power plant could be setup on the main river flow on these rapids.

The famous Neelum Valley is a V – shaped gorge through which the Neelum River flows. Neelum River is known as Kishan-Ganga River in occupied Kashmir. The river enters Neelum Valley near Taobut and continues its journey through narrow gorges between high mountains. Different streams on the way add to its volume and the river finely tributes into river Jhelum at Domail in Muzaffarabad.

At places, the valley is comparatively wider with open terraces on both banks of the river. Most of the dwellings along the river are in these wider sections of the valley. This green and fertile valley is about 250 km in length and stretches all the way from Muzaffarabad to Taobut.

Neelum Valley is separated from the wide Kashmir Valley by the north Kashmir mountain range which runs west from Zoji La Pass. The Neelum River catchment in the north is delimited by the Great Himalayan range as some of its tributaries flow down the slopes of Nanga Parbat (8,126 meters). Rising in the mountain complex to the west of Drass and to the south of the Deosai plateau, Neelum River receives waters of a number of tributaries, including a stream flowing from Koubal. At Sharda, it makes a sharp bend proceeding southwest until finally merging with the Jhelum River at Muzaffarabad.