The contract for the construction of the Rs300 billion Mohmand dam project has been awarded to a joint venture of China Gezhouba, Descon and Voith Hydro, Radio Pakistan reported on Wednesday.
China Gezhouba has 70 per cent share in the project while Descon — the company owned by Razzaq Daud, the prime minister’s adviser on commerce and industry — and Voith Hydro have 30 per cent combined. This information was shared by Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) Chairman Muzammil Hussain in a press conference today.
The preparations for the construction of the dam will be finalised within the next two weeks, Hussain added. He claimed that "all legal, financial and technical impediments in the way of construction of the dam have been addressed".
The bidding process of the dam was made controversial by the government when it considered “single” financial bid of a consortium comprising Descon, China Gezhouba and Voith Hydro, while a consortium consisting of Frontier Works Organisation (FWO), Andritz Hydro and Power China was technically disqualified and its financial bid was not considered.
Observers said that the award of the contract to the first consortium would raise questions over the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf's claims of transparency, as it included the firm owned by the premier's aide. According to top contractors, who did not take part in the bidding, the government should have invited more bids to compete with the remaining one consortium and to ensure transparency and healthy competition after the disqualification of the second consortium.
A Wapda spokesperson, however, explained that the bid of the second consortium was turned down on technical grounds. He insisted that Wapda had followed all legal procedures in the bidding process.
"Once the technical bid is rejected the financial bid of the same firm or consortium is not opened,” he had said. “Therefore, the financial bid of remaining consortium was opened.”
Talking to Dawn a day earlier, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry had said there was nothing wrong in the award of the contract, adding: “Is there any firm in the country which is bigger than Descon?”
He said he would advise Razzaq Daud to give a detailed statement on the issue.
Overcoming water woes
The construction of Mohmand dam is said to be imperative to overcome the problems of water shortage and electricity shortfall in the country. A sum of Rs2bn has already been allocated for the dam project in the Public Sector Development Programme 2018-19.
The Supreme Court, while issuing a detailed verdict in the case pertaining to acute water scarcity in Pakistan, said “the need for water reservoirs is not only expedient but also sine qua non (an essential condition) for the survival of the people and economy of Pakistan”.
It has been learnt that the inauguration ceremony of Mohmand hydro power dam was shelved due to the controversy on the issue of award of the contract of project.
The minister for water resources could not be contacted for comments despite attempts.
The 54-year-old Mohmand dam project is being materialised with the collective efforts of the PTI government led by Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar.
The chief justice has taken personal interest in the project and helped remove obstacles in the way of its execution.
No mega project has been undertaken in water sector in the country after the construction of Tarbela dam in 1967, resulting in the energy and water crisis in Pakistan.
It has been reported that Mohmand dam will store 1.2 million acre feet water and generate 800MW hydel electricity besides irrigating 18,000 acres land. The project will also help protect Mardan, Charsadda, Peshawar and other areas from floods during monsoon season.