ISLAMABAD: The Capital Development Authority (CDA) has asked the executive engineer (XEN) of the Small Dams Organisation to submit complete details on the stalled Chirah Dam project as soon as possible.

In a letter on Friday, the CDA told the XEN that the authority had paid Rs851.8 million to the Small Dams Organisation for the project.

“But still there is no response from your side that when project will start and what its completion date, please inform in detail regarding this project,” the letter, written by CDA’s director of water and sewerage development, said.

Approved in 2009, the Chirah Dam project is a joint venture by the Punjab government and the CDA. Although the Punjab government is the executing agency, it been neglecting the project.

CDA officials Dawn spoke to said the dam was approved by the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council at an estimated cost of Rs5.3 billion and was to be completed by 2013 according to the PC-I. The cost was to be shared by the Punjab government and the CDA.

The dam is to be built on the Soan River near Chirah village, with a capacity to supply the twin cities with 15 millions of water a day (MGD), shared equally.

A CDA official said that if the dam is built it would help to overcome the water crisis in the capital. Currently, the city’s urban population is being supplied below 60MGD, against the requirement of 111MGD.

The CDA’s letter stated that the Ministry of Interior is “pressing hard to resolve and start the world on war footing basis”.

“In view of above, it is therefore requested to kindly provide upto date progress along with comprehensive brief on the subject project depicting upto date status, its allocation and subsequently utilization and the time by which work will be started and completed,” the letter stated.

The matter was also taken up by the Senate Standing Committee on Cabinet Secretariat several times last year, but to no avail.

During a meeting, the committee was told by CDA officials that although there had been absolutely no development on the ground, the estimated cost of the project had risen to over Rs18bn, which the committee feared would increase further.

The committee had recommended referring the delay to the Federal Investigation Agency to determine who was responsible, as the cost of the project has seen an increase of over 400pc.

CDA spokesperson Syed Safdar Ali said the authority has already paid the Small Dams Organisation for the acquisition of land.

“New dams and new water sources are the need of the hour for Islamabad. Because of the growing population, the water shortage has become a permanent feature for the city,” he said, adding that the water supply directorate was devolved to the Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad after the local government elections.

Chief Metropolitan Officer Syed Najaf Iqbal, when contacted, said he had learned that the project was facing issues because of the land acquisition.

Published in Dawn, October 16th, 2018

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