Work on dams to start in middle of next year

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ISLAMABAD: Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) Chairman Lieutenant General (retd) Muzammil Hussain has said that the construction work on Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand dams will commence from the middle of next year.

“There is a need to amend Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules as they are a bottleneck in building mega dam projects,” said the Wapda chairman while addressing a meeting of the Implementation Committee of Diamer-Basha and Mohmand Dams (ICDBMD) on Thursday.

The meeting was held in line with the Supreme Court’s (SC) July 4, 2018 historic judgment aimed at expediting the construction of two mega dams – Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand.

The meeting was attended by the members announced by the SC in its judgment, including additional secretary (budget) Finance Division, joint secretary (water), Ministry of Water Resources, joint secretary Prime Minister Office, senior chief (water) Planning Division, chief secretary Gilgit-Baltistan, senior member Board of Revenue Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) and additional chief secretary (development) K-P.

As many as 18 co-opted members, including former Wapda chairmen Shamsul Mulk and Zafar Mahmood, were also among the participants of the meeting.

The Wapda chairman said that different issues resulting in the delay in completion of the dams had been identified, adding that the work on projects which were completed earlier was on a fast track basis due to absence of some laws.

He said that all clauses of PPRA rules could not be followed in building big dams, adding that a proposal was under consideration to amend the PPRA rules to build dams on a fast track basis. He said that procurement of land and shifting of population were major issues in the construction of the Diamer-Bhasha Dam.

During the meeting, facilitating the procedure of arranging funds was also discussed.

To a question, he said, “It is a good step by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar regarding provision of funds. All institutions are stepping forward in contributing for the construction of these dams.”

“The federal government will provide Rs232 billion from the Public Sector Development Programme and Wapda Rs98 billion financing,” he said, adding that around $1.5 billion to $2 billion external financing would be required to complete these dams.

The chairman said the dams will enable the country to store 9.3 million acre feet (MAF) of water and generate 5,300 megawatts (MW) of low-cost and environment-friendly hydel electricity.

He said that water storage should have been 6.7 MAF this time, but it was less than 1 MAF.

Later, ICDBMD Secretary Syed Mehar Ali Shah briefed the meeting about the framework and draft terms of reference of the Coordination Committee.

The committee discussed in detail the ways and means to effectively oversee the two projects. The meeting decided to constitute five sub committees – Land Acquisition and Resettlement Committee, Finance Committee, Procurement Committee, Security Committee and Coordination Committee.

It was also decided that the sub committees would make their presentations on July 20. The sub committees would also finalise and submit their reports on July 23 on ways to resolve the issues. Subsequently, the progress report will be submitted to the Supreme Court on July 24 in line with the directions

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