ISLAMABAD, Jan 4: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) said the Rawalpindi Environment Improvement Project (REIP) failed to achieve sustainable reduction in environmental degradation and operation of basic urban services.

ADB in its assessment report released on Wednesday stated that the project was closed prematurely as it was facing serious implementation delays.

Poor performance of civil works contractors, especially on sewerage and drainage contracts, was another important reason for not delivering according to the project schedule.

As a result, many works were left incomplete at the time of closure. Many of the studies, plans, surveys, maps, and capacity building activities under the institutional development component were either left incomplete or not initiated at all.

The project was estimated to cost $85.7 million, out of which Asian Development Bank provided two loans worth $60 million while the Punjab government was to provide $21.4 million and the remaining $4.3 million were to be contributed jointly by Wasa and Rawal Town.

The Asian Development Bank assessment report noted that at completion, only 23 per cent of the project cost — $19.6 million — was utilised. ADB financed $13.7 million while the government financed $5.89 million of the utilized amount. Rawal Town and Wasa did not contribute a single penny.

The project was in the second phase of the proposed three-phase plan for improving water and sanitation services in Rawalpindi.

The first phase for $72 million was approved in 1993 for the Rawalpindi Urban Water Supply and Sanitation project under which water supply was increased by 64,000 cubic meters per day with rehabilitation and extension of the water supply distribution network.

The major reasons for project failure were initial design gaps, new projects with overlapping scope initiated by the government after project approval, overall external resistance to reforms, weak consultants' capacities and implementation arrangements, and indecision regarding the scope of the project.

Except for acquisition of land, no work was undertaken on the Sewerage Treatment Plant (STP) the report stated.

Similarly, the remodeling of storm water drainage and construction of new drains hit snags.

Contracts were awarded for the construction of the Asghar Mall road drain from Murree road to Nullah Lai, and remodeling of the drain at Jamia Masjid.

However, these were terminated without undertaking any work, as both sites were heavily encroached and their resettlement plans were neither updated nor implemented.

The Asian Development Bank report pointed out that building of hygienic and environmentally acceptable slaughterhouse facilities at the premises of existing Sihala Slaughterhouse and construction of 15 public toilets were not carried out.

No work was undertaken for rehabilitation of the slaughterhouse because of a delay in the design of the facility by the consul-tant and lack of capacity of the City District Government in operating this facility.

On the positive side, the report stated that the project substantially increased the capacity of the implementing agencies to collect solid waste, without adding any sanitary landfill for safe disposal.

The project reduced water wastage (leakages) and added additional water to the distribution system, but was unable to achieve a corresponding increase in the capacity of the sewage and drainage networks and wastewater treatment facilities to carry and treat the additional water, thus the reduction in the environmental degradation of the city was marginal.

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