LAHORE: The Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) finally received on Wednesday pre-qualification bids from five joint ventures led by the international companies / groups for the construction of main reservoir and appurtenant structures of the 4,500MW Diamer Basha Dam.

Wapda also decided to establish its own consultant group by December this year that would assist it in initiating commencement and completion of the civil and other works on fast track besides building capacity of hundreds of engineers who would be exclusively used for the construction of hydropower projects including Mohmand Dam in Pakistan.

“We have received pre-qualification bids from five joint ventures (JVs) led by the international companies. Local companies are also part of these ventures. The process to evaluate the bids on certain technical and financial parameters and standards and negotiation with the shortlisted bidders over cost of the project will take three to four months. Probably it will complete by end of this year or January next year,” a senior Wapda official told Dawn.

Basha dam -- a multipurpose project -- aims at overcoming water storage and achieving flood mitigation and power generation targets. The project, which will be constructed across River Indus about 40-kilometre downstream of Chillas Town, will have 272-metre high Roller Compacted Concrete (RCC) Dam. It will have a gross water storage capacity of 8.1 million acre feet (MAF) and add more than 18 billion units of low-cost and environment friendly electricity to the national grid per annum.

The official said since the land acquisition for the project was already completed to around 90 per cent, launching civil work can be done within a short span of time.

“All feasibility studies, design etc of the project have already been completed. Similarly, the land acquisition too has almost been completed. So we will be in position to probably start civil work on the project by May next year,” the official added.

As the dam’s construction will also increase the life of Tarbela Dam to another 35 years, the Supreme Court of Pakistan continues to focus and direct the government to launch civil work on Diamer Basha and Mohmand dams which are mentioned in the category of “ready for construction” under Wapda’s priority mega hydropower schemes.

The country’s top court launched a campaign to raise funds for over Rs1,400 billion project. However, the PTI-led government recently merged this with the new fund raising account, that is, PM fund for Basha and Mohmand dams.

“During a recent meeting, the Wapda authorities briefed the PM on the action plan being adopted to complete the projects. The PM was told that a consultant group would be established soon that would enroll 600/700 engineers on the pattern of China where the China Three Gorges Corporation (CTG) enrolled 3,000 local engineers and utilised their skills in construction of the world’s largest hydropower project Three Gorges Dam. It was just done by the company to reduce dependence on the foreign engineers and companies for launching such mega projects,” he explained.

“The PM appreciated the plan, directing authorities to accelerate efforts for launching work on the project keeping in view the growing water issues in the country,” he said.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Wapda said the prequalification bids for the project would be evaluated in accordance with the bid documents and the relevant procurement rules of the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) and the Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC).

“Prequalification bids have been received at Wapda House from five joint ventures of foreign and local firms through international competitive bidding,” he said in a press release. He said the project would have a positive impact on the annual energy generation of the projects in the downstream areas as Wapda estimates that the annual energy generation of the existing hydel power stations including Tarbela, Ghazi Barotha, Jinnah and Chashma would increase by about 2.5 billion per annum, while annual energy generation of the future hydropower projects including Dasu, Pattan and Thakot would also surge by another 7.5 billion units.

Published in Dawn, September 13th, 2018