ISLAMABAD: The Punjab government and the Capital Development Authority (CDA) have failed to build Chirah Dam, which was approved by the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (Ecnec) in 2009.

The dam was supposed to be built on Soan River near Chirah village with a capacity to supply the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad 15 million gallon daily (mgd) water. However, work on the project worth Rs5.3 billion could not be started which otherwise was supposed to be ready in 2103, according to its PC-I.

Sources said keeping in view the inflation rate the cost of the project has increased manifold.

CDA officials said the Punjab government was supposed to execute the project while its cost was to be shared both by the provincial government and the civic agency. They said a few years ago the CDA had paid Rs851 million to the Small Dam Organisation of Punjab for the project but the provincial government failed to start the work.

Punjab govt was supposed to execute project with equal share of cost from CDA, official says

On the other hand, both Rawalpindi and Islamabad have been facing shortage of water.

“There is no delay on our part, we have been pursuing the case and even transferred funds to Small Dam Organisation,” said CDA’s deputy director general water management Sardar Khan Zimri.

He said that the CDA wanted to see the start of the project, adding recently the CDA board also approved construction of two other small dams - Shahdara and Chiniot dams.

It is relevant to note here that Islamabad is a water scarcity-hit city as CDA has been supplying around 65mgd to urban areas while total need of the both urban and rural area is more than 220mgd.

When contacted, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on CDA Affairs Ali Nawaz Awan, who is also MNA from Islamabad, said he had taken up the issue with the Punjab government.

“Apparently, the Punjab government is not interested in this project,” he said and added that he even tried to get the the project executed through Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) if there was any issue of funding.

“But the Punjab government does not want to execute this project, it seems,” the special assistant said, adding the dam should have been built years ago as it was approved in 2009.

During the last almost three decades, no new dam has been built to overcome shortage of water in Islamabad which has only three major sources - Simly Dam, Khanpur Dam and tubewells.

However, last year the CDA got its old supply of two mgd water restored from Rawal Dam, which has been providing water to residents of Rawalpindi.

“We are very serious about new dams. Recently, our board approved construction of two small dams and we will try to get funds from the federal government to start work on it,” said a CDA official.

Published in Dawn, October 25th, 2021

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