ISLAMABAD: The Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) on Wednesday alerted the government about the impediments that could cause delays and cost escalations to major dam projects, particularly Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand.

Briefing the Implementation Committee on Diamer Basha and Mohmand Dams (ICDBMD) on Wednesday, Wapda Chairman Muzammil Hussain updated the participants “of the impediments in the way to smooth execution of these dams including Covid-19, financial flows, emerging security scenario, land acquisition and completion of a critical stretch of relocated Karakoram Highway in case of Diamer-Bhasha Dam.

The ICDBMD, constituted by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in July 2018 and for early commencement and timely completion of these dams, is required to provide progress reports to the court as well as the government to ensure various timelines.

The meeting was informed that projects initially suffered because of the Covid-19 outbreak in China that affected mobilisation and was followed by lockdowns in Pakistan and subsequent standard operating procedures for operations of transport and factories in the country. Issues also pertained to the movement and housing of daily labourers. Like other key figures of the economy, the construction work also remained under pressure.

The Wapda chief. being the head of the implementation committee, reiterated his commitment to the completion of both projects as early as possible. He apprised the meeting that construction activities on as many as 13 sites of Mohmand and 10 sites of Diamer-Bhasha dams were being carried out day in and day out to match the timelines despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

On top of that, resettlement issues were required to be resolved to the satisfaction of the people while the relocation of Karakoram Highway, a part of which was very critical for construction activities. The said Satyal Bypass that was required to divert normal vehicular traffic to push development activities to full swing at critical stretches was to be completed in September. The National Highway Authority (NHA) has now promised completion by March but this has necessarily impacted the pace of work.

Moreover, the financial flows were also highlighted as another issue that required to be focused on to ensure that recovery plans to compensate for the lost timelines were successful. The Wapda chief told the meeting that “though the recovery plans are in place, the impediments, if not addressed by the quarters concerned, may adversely affect the timelines set for completion of the projects”.

The Wapda’s Member (Finance) also briefed the meeting of the matters relating to the financial close of the two projects in relation to the foreign exchange component, as well as financial needs and flows. The general managers of Land Acquisition and Resettlement, Diamer Basha and Mohmand dams also made presentations about the progress and the issues.

Published in Dawn, January 27th, 2022

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