Slow progress on water projects irks ministerial committee

Updated 20 Nov 2020

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An inter-ministerial forum on Thursday expressed concern over delays in implementation of water sector projects being funded by the international lending agencies. —  AFP/File
An inter-ministerial forum on Thursday expressed concern over delays in implementation of water sector projects being funded by the international lending agencies. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: An inter-ministerial forum on Thursday expressed concern over delays in implementation of water sector projects being funded by the international lending agencies and called for coordinated efforts to address bottlenecks.

The National Coordination Committee on Foreign-Funded Projects (NCC-FFP) led by Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar on Tuesday reviewed the implementation status of water sector projects.

Representatives of Ministry of Water Resources, Planning Commission, Member Water of Wapda, representatives of PM’s Office, Finance Division and Provincial Planning & Development Departments and Boards of Revenues attended the meeting.

The NCC-FFP reviewed progress of the development projects of water sector funded by World Bank, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), USA, France, Germany, Saudi Fund, Kuwait, and OFID. At present, 15 foreign-funded projects amounting to $3.239bn are currently under implementation.

During the meeting, Mr Bakhtyar “directed the line departments to fast-track implementation of the projects and prompt redressal of issues for expeditious execution of projects in water sector,” according to an official statement adding it was “especially emphasized on the projects including Dasu Hydropower, Tarbela 5th Extension and Warsak Hydropower Project”.

Sources said the meeting was informed that almost half of the water sector portfolio had become “problematic” and most of the problems were identical. These included difficulties in land acquisition, appointment of consultants and bidding process. After reviewing the portfolio, the committee “set the timelines to resolve the bottlenecks to expedite the process of implementation,” the statement said.

Bakhtyar said the potential of ongoing hydropower and water sector development projects was essential to be exploited for power generation at affordable rates and sustainable development in the economy.

He said the government was focusing on construction of major dams which would fulfill the country’s needs for water, food and energy security and lead to long term benefits towards stabilising the economy.

The meeting noted with concern that “the implementation of hydropower projects under the federal government seemed to be slow” and many factors appeared to be contributing to slow implementation.

These included delays in land acquisition, contract award, procurements and internal approvals besides lack of coordination among government stakeholders at different levels including federal and provincial governments.

Published in Dawn, November 20th, 2020