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IFIs refuse to fund Bhasha Dam under Indian pressure, says Wapda chief

Wapda Chairman Syed Raghib Shah here on Thursday formally admitted that the international financial institutions (IFI) had refused to fund the $14.5 billion Diamer-Bhasha Dam mainly under the Indian influence.

“No doubt, such a large dam cannot be constructed without the cooperation of donor agencies, but they (agencies) are not showing interest and, therefore, we have started hammering out alternative financial plans for the project which include securitisation of the assets of Wapda such as the Ghazi Barotha Hydropower Project, Mangla and Tarbela dams to raise the needed funds,” he said.

The Wapda chief came up with these revelations in a meeting of the Senate Committee on Water and Power, which met here on Thursday with Zahid Khan in the chair. Raghib Shah said that 478MWs of hydro generation will be injected in the national grid by June 2013. However, Wapda officials said that the USAID had shown willingness to provide $93 million for the Kurum Tangi Dam.

About the Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Project, the Senate committee chairman said that the government had collected Rs70 billion in the shape of Neelum-Jhelum Surcharge on electricity bills from the masses to complete this project, but Wapda officials said that it was wrong. They said the Neelum-Jhelum surcharge was enforced in 2007-08 and the amount of Rs25 billion had been collected till Nov 2012.

The Senate committee chairman said it needed to be probed and asked the relevant authorities to come up with the exact collection figures of the revenue in the shape of Neelum-Jhelum surcharge in the next 10 days.

The Wapda official said that the four units of 22MW Jaban powerhouse would be made operational in March this year. The powerhouse was burnt and the government sustained a loss of Rs3.75 billion. For the Kurrum Tangi Dam, the USA will provide $93 million after the completion ofenvironment study. To a question, the Wapda chairman said that the working paper of Dasu Dam had been dispatched to the Economic Affairs Division (EAD) so that it could market it to potential donor agencies for arranging the finances. “The study for the 7,000MW Bunji Hydropower Project has been completed,” he disclosed.

On the occasion, Special Secretary Water and Power Hamayiat Ullah Khan said that in the last 45 years, no big project got completed except the 1,450MW Ghazi Barotha Hydropower Project.

He said that 40 years had been wasted in the water project disputes. He said that masses should think over why they could not develop a consensus on major dams. “Pakistan is generating most costly thermal electricity and in the world maximum electricity is being generated on coal and the cost of electricity based on coal is Rs4-5 per unit,” he said.

Mr Khan said that 80 sugar mills had the capacity to generate 3,000MW of electricity and to this effect the Ministry of Water and Power had convened a meeting of representatives of 80 sugar mills to carve out a plan. He also disclosed that the Nepra Act was being amended so that regulator could determine the power tariff in 45 days instead of five months.

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