THIS is apropos of the news item ‘US to finance feasibility study of $14bn dam’ (July 25) which is based on complete ignorance of the status of the project.

The pre- feasibility of the Bhasha Dam project was completed by Canadian firm Monenco in 1984. A lobby in Pakistan started to propagate its implementation instead of the Kalabagh Dam as the particularly accepted alternative.

To remove this misunderstanding about its being pre-or full feasibility, the World Bank agreed to finance a technical assistance programme for meeting the cost of its review by an international panel of experts in 1987-88.

The members of the panel were selected out of nominees from the World Bank and were US, German, Italian, Brazilian and Columbian nationals. The panel of experts ranked the Monenco study according to the feasibility plus.

For carrying out a proper bankable feasibility study, an international consortium of hydropower consulting firms containing also a US firm, namely MWH, were engaged and the feasibility of project involving technical, economic/financial and environmental aspects was completed in 2004. This report is an international standard feasibility report complete in all aspects.

Later, Wapda, the executing agency on behalf of the government, engaged again another international consortium led by the world’s top-ranked hydropower firm Lahmeyer International of Germany to carry out the review of earlier reports and prepare detailed engineering design of the project components, along with the bidding documents.

This assignment was successfully completed in 2008. The project is awaiting arrangement of funding for floating its tenders to select the contracting firms to start its construction.

The news item about US ambassador’s offer to the finance minister to finance the carrying out of feasibility reflects the height of ignorance, if it is not based on some other latent agenda for derailing the project.

It is reiterated that work on feasibility study by a group of international firms led by MWH of the US, one of the five top-ranking firms in hydropower field, is of internationally bankable standard without any fear of negation.

Second, the detailed engineering design has been prepared by another international group of consulting firms led by the top-ranking hydropower firm, Lahmeyer International of Germany. The ADB team has praised its quality. The tender documents were then prepared by the same group and this assignment was completed in 2008.

Accordingly, talking about financing the feasibility study at this stage is highly worrisome and should be curbed.



WB refusal

THIS is apropos the news report (July 22) that the World Bank has shown its inability to finance the Diamer-Bhasha Dam. The bank has refused to finance the project because it is not workable.

In other words, it would cost $12 to 14bn over a period of 14 to 15 years to build, for which Pakistan could not muster enough funds as the debt payment would start after 10 years when no power could be generated from the dam, creating a state of circular debt piling up.

In contrast, the World Bank supports the Dassu Dam, which is a run-of-the-river project, costing $350m initially and producing 500 MW of power in the first phase, increasing up to 1,800 MW after three stages are completed at a cost of $3.5bn.

The debt payment would start after five years when the power generated could finance the debt payment in time. Although the Dassu Dam would be a run-of-the-river project and could not store water unlike the Bhasha Dam for which there are no prospects of funding at present.

The water shortage is being described as greater than the threat of terrorism but it has yet not registered on the Richter scale of our rulers’ mind. The whole world is crying for Pakistan being a water-stressed country with a storage of only nine per cent of its river potential, while we need last drop of our sweet water rivers for our use.

Former Wapda chairman Shamsul Mulk has cried hoarse that we always plan about power generation, ignoring the water storage issue which is greater problem than power shortage as water is life as a fundamental right.

As such, we need a mega hydroelectric dam that would store water as also produce dirt cheap energy like the Kalabagh Dam that would need $6 to 7bn to be completed in six years.

It is unfortunate that even KP chief minister is not ready to give a green signal to the Kalabagh Dam, while clamouring for a consensus.

It appears that Imran Khan needs to set his own house in order as people would be expecting that with the ANP out of the way, road would now be clear for the Kalabagh Dam but the new KP government is towing the line of the ANP. This is lamentable.

Imran Khan ought to tame his KP government to be in line with the national aspiration of the people and not put a spanner in the way of the Kalabagh Dam.





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