ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary body on Tuesday objected to delays in the completion of the Nai Gaj dam, the construction cost of which has escalated from Rs17 billion to Rs47.7bn in the last decade.
The Senate Standing Committee on Planning, Development and Reform was informed that the project, which started in September 2009, had been delayed due to changes in its design and financial problems.
“The matter has become quite complex in the face of the new water policy. The matter is sub judice and the best solution is to wait for the Supreme Court decision on the matter,” Planning, Development and Reform Secretary Zafar Hasan told the committee that had met to discuss the current status of the Nai Gaj dam in Dadu city, Sindh.
The senior official explained that there was a stalemate between the federal and Sindh governments over who would pay the difference between the original cost of Rs16.9bn in 2009 and the Rs26.23bn cost in PC-1, which was revised in 2012.
Federal govt blames Sindh govt for financial delays while Sindh claims project revised on account of deferred payments
The official explained that it was the understanding of the federal government that financial delays were on the part of the Sindh government.
The meeting was told that in the revised PC-1 2018, the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) included additional components such as a power house, project colony, access roads, cost of spillways and pipeline to the Manchhar Lake, increasing the cost of completion of the dam to Rs46.73bn. It has been nine months since the second PC-1 was submitted for approval by the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (Ecnec).
“Encec has decided that the federal and Sindh governments share the escalated costs equally. However, the Sindh government insists that the federal government should bear the increased costs entirely,” Mr Hasan told the committee.
In his response, Sindh Irrigation Special Secretary Aslam Ansari informed the members that the government of Sindh was prepared to contribute its share for land acquisition and resettlement that amounted to about Rs1.8bn.
“However, the Nai Gaj project has been revised on account of deferred payments after which completion cost increased and secondly due to changes in design. The Sindh government has no stake, influence or interference in either of these items. The deferred payments should have been streamlined by the federal government after approval of PC-1. It is, therefore, unjustified to ask the Sindh government to pay the escalated costs,” Mr Ansari argued.
He said that the stance of the Sindh government had been submitted to the Supreme Court, which has taken notice of the issue. He reiterated that the Sindh government was ready to contribute its share for land acquisition and security.
Committee chairman Agha Shahzaib Durrani reminded the planning secretary of the directive issued six months ago to initiate an investigation against those responsible for the delay in the Nai Gaj project.
“The committee also reminded the ministry on July 30 of an inquiry report but did not receive a reply. We direct the Ministry of Planning and Development to share the report within a week,” Mr Durrani said.
Published in Dawn, August 21st, 2019