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Lack of funds, security issues impeding water sector projects

The Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) on Tuesday admitted that the lack of funds, security issues and rising settlement costs were the main hindrances in the execution of most water sector projects.

At a press conference, Syed Raghib Abbas Shah, chairman of Wapda, said that the organisation has not been paid its hydel dues worth Rs80 billion, which is creating financial problems for the authority. He also underscored the problems being faced in winning funding arrangements for projects from international financial institutions.

According to Shah, one-third of projects costs in some cases is being diverted to deal with security issues. “However, it is a major achievement that various foreign companies are working in collaboration with Wapda for the execution of several projects.”

Shah claims that the cost of the Mangla raising project has gone up by approximately one-third due to escalating resettlement costs.

“Presently, Wapda is working on over 20 water sector projects that will produce over 20,000MW of electricity and store 12 million acres feet of water after completion,” he said. “Of these, six projects with the electricity generation capacity of 400MW and water storage capacity of one million acres feet would be completed by the end of 2012 or the middle of 2013.”

According to Shah, if the funds committed are released as per schedule, Wapda will be able to produce 5,000MW in the next five years and an additional 14,000MW by the end of 2020.

Talking about various under-construction projects, Shah said that the Jinnah hydropower project on River Indus, having 96MW generation capacity will be completed next month, while repair from flood damage will continue. The generation of cheap electricity is expected to start next month, he added.

Regarding Allai Khawar high head project of 121MW, the Wapda chairman said that test run is being done, while generation would start by early next month. Similarly, Dubair Khawar project of 130MW would be built by March 2013.

Gomal Zam Dam, which is being constructed with the help of USAID, he said, would start generation of 17MW next month with the storage capacity of 1.14MAF. This electricity will be fed to Tank and adjoining tribal areas of South Waziristan. This project is being given final touches. Satpara Dam is in final stage and would start generation of 17MW by March 2013, he said, adding that this electricity would be fed to local area in Skardu, besides storing 0.93 MAF water. Jabban hydropower project of 22MW would start generation by March 2013, he added.

“We are also vigorously working on a multipurpose mega Diamer-Basha Dam, which is ready for construction, having capacity of 4,500MW with the storage capacity of 8.1MAF,” he said, adding that the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has asked for changes in the resettlement package, which has been incorporated. The infrastructure-related work to resolve logistic issues is being done, besides land acquisition for the dam site.

He categorically said that priority is being given to Diamar-Basha Dam and expressed the hope that work on $13 billion dam site would start soon.

“We have sought expressions of interest for appointment of consultant for the project.”

Regarding funding of the project, the Wapda chairman said negotiations with various international financial institutions, including the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank are underway. The World Bank is still discussing this project within the financial institution and correspondence with Wapda is still continued, he said.

Appropriate announcement would be made about the progress once a consortium is finalised in the light of the funding arrangement, he said. “It is a difficult and costly project and due to large size of the project we admit that there are difficulties in its execution.” However, he said, the government and Wapda are giving top priority to Diamer-Basha Dam. Construction of Tarbela 4th Extension is expected to start early next year, he said, adding that it is expected that this project would be completed in 2017. Documentation of two hydropower projects has been completed and the Private Power Infrastructure Board (PPIB) has been entrusted to award these projects under the public-private partnership mode.

The 496MW Lower Spatgah and 665MW Lower Palas Valley projects for the first time are being offered to the private sector, said Shah.

“We are also focusing on efforts to increase power generation capacity of Mangla power house from 1,000MW to 1,400MW.” The United States government is expected to help Pakistan replace the decades-old turbine of Mangla Dam, he said, adding that an agreement is likely to be signed soon.

JICA has also expressed interest in this project, he added.

Wapda will complete detailed engineering design of 4,320MW Dasu hydropower project by 2013 with the assistance of the World Bank. “We are also preparing documentation of 7,100MW Bunji hydropower project and Munda Dam.” Regarding canal projects, Shah said, efforts are being made to complete construction of the first phase of Kachhi Canal in Balochistan in order to irrigate 55,000 acres of land in Dera Bugti by March 2013.

The Right Bank Outfall Drain I and II have helped drain water of floods in the area, he said.

Work on 969MW Neelum-Jhelum hydropower project has been in progress and 40 percent work has already been completed. It is expected that the project would be completed as per the schedule in 2016.

He admitted that there are procedural delays in the execution of Golan Gol hydropower project, which is being streamlined. About small and medium dams, he said, lack of resources has hampered some progress; however, Darawat Dam in Sindh would be completed in December, while work on Naulang and Nai Ganj is also being expedited.

About the construction of Kalabagh Dam, the Wapda chairman said that construction of consensus projects, including Diamer-Basha Dam are being made and other projects could be initiated later following removal of differences among the federating units.

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