PPP petitions NAB against award of Mohmand Dam contract to Descon-led consortium

Published January 4, 2019
A joint venture of China Gezhouba, Descon and Voith Hydro was awarded the contract, of which China Gezhouba has a 70 per cent share, while Descon and Voith have a combined 30pc share. ─ File photo
A joint venture of China Gezhouba, Descon and Voith Hydro was awarded the contract, of which China Gezhouba has a 70 per cent share, while Descon and Voith have a combined 30pc share. ─ File photo

The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on Friday petitioned the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) against the award of a contract for the construction of the Mohmand Dam to a consortium led by a company in which a sitting cabinet member and his family have ownership stakes.

On January 2, the government announced that the contract for the Rs309 billion Mohmand Dam was awarded to a consortium led by Descon, a company formerly owned by Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood on a single-bid basis.

Although Dawood said he had "resigned" from all offices he held in Descon before his appointment as an adviser to the PM, he and his family members continue to hold ownership stakes in the company.

A joint venture of China Gezhouba, Descon and Voith Hydro was awarded the contract, of which China Gezhouba has a 70 per cent share, while Descon and Voith have a combined 30pc share.

The bidding process of the dam was made controversial by the government when it considered the consortium's "single" financial bid while another consortium consisting of the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO), Andritz Hydro and Power China was technically disqualified and its financial bid was not considered.

PPP leader Chaudhry Zaheer Mehmood in his petition to NAB stated that the award of the contract to the Descon-led consortium is a "conflict of interest and against the law and procedure".

The petition noted that the FWO-led consortium's "technical bid was found not to be qualified. Thus the single bid was accepted and the contract was awarded to the consortium which included Descon", adding that the "award of contract for the construction of Mohmand Dam raises questions as to transparency and fairness".

The petition observed that Dawood is an adviser to the prime minister and participates in parliamentary proceedings.

It maintained that Dawood had committed an offence under Section 9 of the National Accountability Ordinance 1999, and called for action under the ordinance, saying that a reference should be submitted for adjudication.

According to a Radio Pakistan report, Federal Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda has said the groundbreaking of the dam will take place on Jan 13.

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 Rs 2bn has already been allocated for the dam project in the Public Sector Development Programme 2018-19.

The 54-year-old Mohmand dam project was being materialised with the collective efforts of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government led by Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar.

The chief justice has taken a 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 of water and generate 800MW hydel electricity besides irrigating 18,000 acres of land. The project will also help protect Mardan, Charsadda, Peshawar and other areas from floods during monsoon season.

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