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Wapda clarifies, but The New stands by its story

The Pakistan Water & Power Development Authority (Wapda) spokesperson has clarified a news item titled “World Bank, ADB want NOC from India” published in daily The News on August 11, 2012.

The spokesperson has said that negotiations are continuing with China, the Asian Development Bank, the Islamic Development Bank and other donors to make financial arrangements for construction of Diamer Bhasha Dam. The response on part of the donors is quite encouraging, while financial plan in this regard will soon be finalised, he added.

The spokesperson further said that the Federal Water & Power Minister Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar presided over a meeting on August 13 to discuss all issues relating to the financing of the project.

Diamer Bhasha Dam is a vital project for Pakistan and the Federal government is implementing this project on the highest priority. The ECNEC had already approved the project, while the CCI had also unanimously approved construction of the project in July 2010. The government has sanctioned Rs16.4 billion for land acquisition, out of which a sum of Rs6.8 billion has been disbursed among the affectees for their land.

Besides acquiring land for the project, as many as 13 local contracts for construction of Wapda offices, colonies, contactors’ camp, roads and other infrastructure in the project area have also been awarded. The construction work on all these contracts is in full swing, the spokesperson added.

It is pertinent to mention that Diamer Bhasha Dam is a multipurpose project, which will store water for irrigation, mitigate floods and generate low cost hydel electricity. The gross storage capacity of the project is 8.1 million acre feet, while power generation capacity is 4500 megawatt. Diamer Bhasha Dam will contribute about 19 billion units of electricity annually to the national grid.

Khalid Mustafa adds: The story is correct as Wapda chief has sent three communications to the Ministry of Water and Power mentioning that Manila based Asian Development Bank which used to term itself the leading donor for the most important project of Pakistan, Diamer Bhasha Dam, has reversed its commitment to finance the project.

In the communications, a copy available with The News, Wapda chief says the ADB has let Pakistan down and wasted four crucial years of the country in implementation of the project. Though the ADB has yet to convey its refusal in plain words, the dilly dallying tactics on part of the bank have not only caused an escalation in the project cost by another whopping $2 billion (at the rate of $500 million per annum), but also deprived Pakistan of $8 billion in terms of the annual benefits of the project (at the rate of $2 billion per annum) over a period of the last four years.

The communication says that the Chairman of the executing agency of Diamer Bhasha Dam Project, Wapda, Shakil Durrani opined that the ADB is playing games and veering to the World Bank position on the project, and has requested the government to approach the time-tested friend China for financing the project.

If the funding issue is not there then why WAPDA chief went to China in the last week of July, 2012 where he discussed matters relating to financing of Diamer Bhasha Dam Project with the three leading Chinese firms. The firms expressed their willingness to arrange funds for the project. If the contention that Wapda has adopted in the clarification is accepted for a while, then the question arises why a high powered meeting was held in EAD to explore other alternative options to arrange the funding. The clarification should have come from the donors, but it is quite strange that Wapda is issuing the clarification in defending the World Bank and ADB.

And if the funding issue is so smooth, then why a high powered meeting is going to take place in the Planning Commission on August 17 to carve out the strategy to arrange the funding after a big no by ADB and World Bank. The News stands by its story.

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