ISLAMABAD: Foot dragging and financial wrangling between the federal and Sindh governments have led to increase in the construction cost of much needed Nai Gaj dam in Sindh. The cost of the dam project which was initially envisaged at Rs16.9 billion has now reached Rs46.9bn.
The fact came to the fore in reports furnished before the Supreme Court which is seized with a petition moved through senior counsel Rasheed A. Razvi highlighting snags that had hit the construction of Nai Gaj dam in Dadu district. The Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform approached the SC on Thursday, seeking a directive that Sindh should share 50 per cent of the additional cost for the construction of the provincial dam which came to Rs10.37bn.
On the other hand, Sindh claims that its share according to a formula proposed by Wapda comes to Rs1.89bn.
In an application before a three-judge SC bench headed by Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, the ministry said that the Sindh government was sharing the additional cost which came to Rs10.37bn that was approved in 2012. The commitment to share 50pc additional cost by Sindh was made during a meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec).
Federal govt claims Sindh should provide Rs10.37bn; provincial govt believes its share as per Wapda’s formula comes to Rs1.89bn
The SC rejected the report furnished by the Sindh Irrigation Department and summoned the province’s chief secretary and secretaries of finance and irrigation for May 23.
The ministry also sought permission from the apex court to furnish a proper report highlighting that Nai Gaj dam was first approved in 2009 at a cost of Rs16.9bn, but since the project could not be completed in the specified period, it had to be revised again in 2012 at a revised cost of Rs26.3bn.
Till date Rs12bn had been spent on the project whereas its physical progress according to Wapda was 51pc, the ministry said.
The second revised PC-1 of the project with the enhanced cost of Rs47.7bn was considered by the Central Development Working Party (CDWP) on Jan 10 this year and after deliberations, it recommended the project for the consideration of Ecnec at a rationalised cost of Rs46.9bn with some conditions.
On Jan 25, Ecnec in its meeting decided that though as a matter of principle, any project benefitting a single province should be financed through the province’s own resources, but since the project was already under implementation through federal funding, the Sindh government should also be asked to share 50pc of the additional cost over and above the first revision in 2012.
The ministry stated that the federal government was ready to provide funds to the extent of its share but the Sindh government was sticking to the financial formula of Wapda which was proposed in the second revised PC-1 and came to Rs1.89bn as its share.
As per the original PC-1, the amount due to the Sindh government was Rs1.54m to be utilised for the land acquisition, environment and security. This amount later become Rs1.89bn in the revised PC-1 and continued to be the same in the second revised PC-1.
The ministry argued that this Rs1.89bn was already included in the cost of the project approved in 2012 at Rs26.23bn, whereas Ecnec had directed for 50pc share of the provincial government over and above the approved cost of 2012.
Cost of works
Meanwhile, Sindh Secretary Irrigation Jamal Mustafa Syed also furnished a report stating that the proposal submitted by Wapda in the form of second revised PC-1 for the construction of Nai Gaj dam amounting to Rs47.7bn envisaged land acquisition, resettlement, security and command area development at an estimated cost accumulated to Rs1.89bn which the Sindh government had to provide.
Whereas the cost of works and allied items had to be financed by the federal government, the report claimed.
The Sindh government assured the court it was committed that the command area development would be synchronised with the commissioning of the dam as per procedures and policies of the government.
According to the petition, Nai Gaj is a hill torrent that emanates from Khuzdar district of Balochistan and after passing through plains of Kutch, eventually enters Manchar Lake. Nai Gaj area remains dry for eight months and gets water in four months during monsoon season. Nai Gaj flows often devastate flood protective bunds and inundate agricultural lands when Manchar Lake is not in a position to receive flows after attaining peak level in monsoon season. Monsoon water after inundating agricultural lands and devastating houses and standing crops fall into sea and, as such, huge amount of water is wasted.
Apart from serving as continuous flow of fresh water to Manchar Lake, which will improve the ecology of the Lake, Nai Gaj dam will also serve as a lifeline for the people of this mountainous region that lies in Dadu with the potential of changing socio-economic conditions of the area people.
Published in Dawn, May 17th, 2019
ISLAMABAD - Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar and…