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Telemetry system faults persist

August 02, 2005


ISLAMABAD, Aug 1: The telemetry system installed for automatically recording water flows has failed to function and the Indus River System Authority (Irsa) has demanded its ‘design re-engineering’. The system was installed about two years ago at a cost of Rs320 million to monitor inflows and outflows at all the dams and barrages through an automatic electronic system to remove misgivings among the provinces over water theft and other issues.

The contractor, Siemens of Germany, was rehired through a Rs8.4 million contract for six months to remove the system’s technical faults but in vain. An inter-provincial meeting has been convened on Wednesday to take a final decision in this regard on the basis of an Irsa report and discuss other issues. Water and Power Minister Liaqat Ali Jatoi will preside over the meeting.

On the basis of reports of the three consultants, Irsa had informed the government that the system could not function without design re-engineering, officials said.

In a letter to the water and power ministry, Wapda and Siemens, Irsa has said that the Water and Power Development Authority, being the executing agency, should run the project till its re-engineering. Till such time, Irsa would have nothing to do with the telemetry system, the letter said.

Irsa has demanded that Wapda should get the project repaired under the warranty from Siemens. Saying that there is no solution to the problem except re-engineering of the system, the authority has demanded that Wapda, Nespak, Siemens and Supernet should be made responsible for it and Irsa and the provincial irrigation departments should be made part of the monitoring exercise.

The sources said Irsa’s demand followed a decision by a committee led by Water and Power Secretary Ashfaq Mehmood. The committee had asked Wapda and Siemens in the first week of July to remove faults at Kotri, Taunsa, Nowshera and Garang before July 25. However, efforts for removal of the faults had failed to bear results by the deadline.

The system initially envisaged 23 monitoring sites linked through electronic censors for real-time reading of the water situation throughout the country. Later, a censor was added at the Chashma Hydro-electric Power Station.

The system could not function normally since its inception. It had faced similar problems about 10 months ago and the government had re-hired Siemens on a six-month contract. However, the problems could not be removed.

In addition to the three new consultants, Irsa has inducted about 35 people to operate the system. The installation of the system had cost Rs320 million. Irsa’s demands are based on reports of three specialists on hydrology, software and telecommunication, who investigated the project design and implementation and reasons for its failure.

The specialists were hired about three months ago when complaints about wrong reporting by the system started pouring in every day from almost all the locations.