ISLAMABAD: The government has requested the World Bank to extend deadline for utilisation of funds for land acquisition and resettlement for the construction of Dasu hydropower project until May 2021 as the time allowed under the financing agreement to utilise IDA loan for land acquisition and resettlement has been lost, it was learnt here.
The task team, which evaluated the government’s request, has recommended to the bank to accept the request to amend the withdrawal schedule of the financing agreement to provide for utilisation of funds up to May 20, which will allow all the land to be acquired.
The International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank group had approved two credits worth $190.30 million and $398.10m, which became effective in November 2014. The loan of $190.30m still remains undisbursed, while disbursement of $142m has been made from the loan of $398.10m.
The land acquisition process has been delayed because of lack of cadastral data in the project area and because of difficulty in reaching agreement on compensation rates. With the decisions on revised rates now taken by the federal cabinet, it is expected that the land acquisition will be completed within the next eighteen months. A restructuring paper to extend the deadline for utilisation of funds for land acquisition and resettlement says the Pakistan government’s request would require an amendment to the financing agreement.
The paper says there has been significant progress in the project in the last six months. Intense supervision and strengthened project management have resulted in actions to solve blockages for progress. All major contracts have now been procured and construction of the diversion tunnels has commenced.
Most importantly, the deadlock in land acquisition has been resolved as Ecnec and the federal Cabinet have approved the revised land rates, and award of land will now start again in earnest.
The Deputy Commissioner has confirmed that 1,277 acres in the prioritised construction area will be ready for award. The land for the construction footprint is expected to be awarded during the next three months and the remaining land for the project awarded within the next six months.
Settling of payments and handing over may take longer but it is expected to be completed over the next eighteen months, the document says.
The Dasu hydropower project aims to facilitate the expansion of electricity supply of hydro-power in Pakistan.
The project would also improve access to socio-economic services for local communities in the project area and build Wapda’s capacity to prepare future hydropower projects. This would be achieved by installing a 2,160MW hydropower plant on the main Indus River, which can be expanded to 4,320MW in future at very low cost.
Published in Dawn, November 24th, 2019