The 12 small- and medium-sized dam projects initiated by Wapda throughout the country in late 2009 and scheduled for completion within three years of commencement have been long delayed, primarily for want of funds.

These dams are designed for extended irrigation of developed farmland, as well as to bring new areas under cultivation by harnessing flood water. The combined gross storage capacity of these 12 dams, on completion, will be 2.9 MAF to irrigate 340,000 acres of land.

Most of these projects have potential to generate hydropower of cumulative capacity of over 43 MW for off-grid electricity supply. Other objectives include drinking water supply, fisheries development, flood protection and groundwater recharge.

In January 2010, President Asif Ali Zardari performed the groundbreaking ceremony of Darawat Dam in Sindh, Winder Dam in Balochistan and Ghabir Dam in Punjab, which were to be completed by June 2013.

Given the present status and slow pace of work, however, it is not realistic to achieve target. Other nine projects simply could not take-off as yet. The situation is a sad reflection on planning, management and monitoring on the part of executing agency, and equally, on seriousness of the federal government for developing small dams.

Non-availability of necessary funds has been cited as a major factor impeding the progress. Credit of $700 million committed by EXIM Bank of China is not forthcoming, which was to cover 80 per cent project cost. The government has to provide balance of 20 per cent of cost under the PSDP. During current financial year, the Wapda requires release of Rs18.60 billion to commence construction of another 10 dams, while one (Darawat Dam) is under construction and another project (Sita Dam in District Qambar Shahdadkot) has been stalled. The federal government has released in September only Rs360 million for Darawat Dam, giving rise to speculation about future of other projects.

Darawat Dam, in District Jamshoro, is politically motivated as about 50,000 acres of land would be distributed among poor women belonging to the project area at the rate of 25 acres per person. Contract for its construction was awarded in June 2010 and main dam construction was due for completion in December 2012 and irrigation system by June 2013. However, having achieved nearly 60 per cent physical completion, the project is now re-scheduled for completion in 2016-17.

There is no progress on Winder Dam in District Lasbela. Tendering process was cancelled after issuance of Letter of Acceptance to contractor in February 2010. Ironically, an expenditure of Rs42 million has already been incurred. Meanwhile, the ECNEC has approved revised PC-I. The project, now rescheduled for completion in 2016-17, will be re-tendered subject to availability of funds.

Construction work on Ghabir Dam (near Talagang) could not be started either. Contract was awarded in September 2010; however no physical progress could be achieved as contract was later cancelled. Tender will be re-invited on approval of revised PC-I, which is pending with the ECNEC since November 2011.

Contract for construction of Naulong Dam in District Jhal Magsi was awarded in April 2011, but nothing has not yet mobilised on site. Tender for Papin Dam (District Rawalpindi) has not been announced, whereas tender for Hingol Dam in District Lasbela was to be received on December 19. Tenders for construction of Pelar Dam (District Awaran) and Garuk Dam (District Kharan) were invited in October 2009 but there was no response. There is no schedule for inviting tenders afresh.

No decision has been made on bids received in July 2010 for construction of Darban Zam Dam near D I Khan. Likewise, no physical work commenced on Bara Dam in Khyber Agency. Tender was invited in October 2009 and due date for receiving bids was extended a number of times, without any response. Now, the revised PC-I is under preparation and the USAID is expected to finance the project. No progress has been achieved on construction of Nai Gaj Dam in District Dadu for which contractor was engaged in April 2011.

Ironically, project costs of all the dams have escalated beyond any proportions—two times to 10 times, in spite of the fact that foreign exchange component is hardly 10 per cent of total cost. Originally estimated to cost Rs94 billion, the 12 dam projects are now to be completed at a total cost of Rs 302 billion, if not further delayed.

Darawat Dam was initially to cost Rs7.555 billion, whereas its revised cost is Rs13.632 billion. As completion period has extended to 2016-17, the project would by then cost around Rs17.647 billion.

Cost of Winder Dam was estimated at Rs1.696 billion, later revised to Rs8.324 billion and the current estimate stands at Rs12.712 billion. Likewise, PC-I for Ghabir Dam was approved for Rs2.111 billion and revised cost is Rs11.679 billion. Cost of Papin Dam as per PC-I was Rs1.136 billion that has been revised to Rs8.609 billion. Cost estimates for Naulong Dam have gone up from Rs11.700 billion to Rs26.249 billion to latest Rs35.716 billion. Hingol Dam project cost has been revised from Rs26.463 billion to Rs41.121 billion.

Original cost estimates of Pelar Dam and Garuk Dam were Rs1.692 billion and Rs790 billion, respectively, which have escalated to Rs10.092 billion and Rs7.921. Cost of Nai Gaj Dam was originally estimated Rs14.433 billion, revised to Rs26.240 billion and again, in March 2012, to Rs63.053 billion. Darban Dam is to cost Rs5.828 billion compared to Rs2.751 billion as per PC-I.

Long delays and cost overruns have so far deprived the nation of socioeconomic development through food security, infrastructure, tourism, reduction of poverty and local job opportunities. The government needs to take effective measures to ensure commencement and their completion of these projects within stipulated timeframe and at reasonable cost.

Updated Dec 23, 2012 10:13pm

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