May 2020



Our Correspondent

May 30, 2020

LAHORE: In a major development for harnessing scarce water resources in Southern Punjab, Wapda awarded the consultancy contract worth Rs156.226 million to a joint venture headed by Nespak for feasibility study, detailed engineering design, preparation of tender documents and PC-I of Murunj Dam project.

Wapda’s General Manager (hydro planning) Muhammad Amin and Nespak’s general manager (water and agriculture) Javed Munir signed an agreement on behalf of Wapda and the joint venture respectively in a ceremony held at the Wapda House.

Murunj Dam project will be constructed across Kaha Nullah about 15 km from Marri village and 116 km west of Rajanpur, Punjab. Kaha Nullah is one of the largest hill torrents of the Koh-e-Sulaiman Range located in the vicinity of Rajanpur with average annual inflows of 183,000 acre feet. The available water resources are very scarce in Rajanpur and adjoining areas facing acute shortage of freshwater for drinking and agriculture.

Murunj Dam project has three main objectives namely storage of water for irrigation and drinking purpose, flood mitigation and power generation. The project will have gross water storage of 800,000 acre feet. Annual monsoon rains give rise to flashing hill torrents causing inundation of thousands of acres of land in the adjoining foothills and rendering damages to public property and cultivated land each year.

The project will generate 12 megawatt (MW) cheap and environment-friendly electricity. The project is unique in nature for Southern Punjab and will help alleviate poverty from the remote and backward region. It will change existing economic indicators and uplift the living standard of the people. The project will have tangible benefits and bring about 120,000 acre barren land into irrigable, groundwater recharging and fisheries development. Implementation of project will have significant impact on local economy.



Khaleeq Kiani Updated May 21, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Amid the launch of the construction of Diamer-Bhasha dam, the government on Wednesday said the decision to build it as a ‘roller compact concrete (RCC)’ structure was based on 20-year intensive scrutiny of technical and geological reports and feasibility studies by an international panel of experts.

Speaking at a news conference, Wapda chairman retired Lt Gen Muzammil Hussain said the project was initially among a list of 8-10 major projects identified by a Canadian consultant in the early 1980s and the choice for RCC dam was based on pre-feasibility and feasibility studies of the time.

According to him, the World Bank, which had originally agreed to support the project, appointed an international panel of experts from the US, the UK, Canada, etc, in 1997-98 under a regime of evaluation and approved it be built on RCC technology instead of earthfill or rockfill dam in view of the local topography, rainfalls patterns, etc.

Decision to build Diamer-Bhasha as a ‘roller compact concrete’ structure based on intensive scrutiny of technical, geological reports

In 2002-04, another panel of experts engaged by Wapda/government of Pakistan and led by Australian dam experts also concluded that RCC dam was best suited for Diamer-Bhasha because of expected glacial lake outburst floods in the Indus region and the fear that resultant overtopping flows could damage earthfill and rockfill structures downstream and the RCC was found to be a safe technology.

Moreover, the RCC was also found suitable from economic viability standpoint as this allows low level outlets, spillways and water passages within the main structure. This is not possible for earthfill or rockfill dam for which separate space is required. This was once again confirmed by another panel of experts in 2007-08.

On top of that, Lehmayr of Germany prepared a detailed design of the dam supporting the RCC option, which was again confirmed by a panel of experts. As such, the whole process concluding the RCC dam spanned over a period of 20-25 years.

Not only this, all experts have concluded that all dams on the Indus cascade should be RCC structures, including Bunji, Dasu, Pattan and Thakot.

In reply to a question, the Wapda chairman said the entire Rs480 billion financing for the dam was not required at the outset nor Wapda intended to contract this financing to pay management fee and other charges and hence it would complete financing in a staggered manner.

He said the government had committed Rs30-35bn per year to meet its 30 per cent cost sharing, while Wapda itself had Rs100bn its own equity. He said the total estimated cost of the project was about Rs1.407 trillion of which the dam cost was about Rs480bn. About Rs97bn cost is going to land acquisition and about Rs79bn on confidence building measures to secure support of the local population required to be dislocated and given alternative residence and other facilities like roads, schools and hospitals. He said the cost of power generation facility was estimated at Rs751bn but that would be required at a later stage.

Mr Hussain said the government would meet about 30pc or Rs406bn share of the total project cost, while the remaining Rs997bn or 70pc would be arranged by Wapda through Rs100bn equity, besides commercial financing, Eurobonds, etc.

He said three leading international rating agencies — Fitsch, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s — had rated Wapda as a stable entity.

Responding to another question, Mr Hussain said two joint ventures had competed for the dam contract — the China Gezhouba Group and its local partner and Power China and Frontier Works Organisation (FWO). The Power China and FWO won the project through an evaluation committee constituted by the Supreme Court.

Also, an implementation committee constituted again by the Supreme Court and including leading figures like Eng Shamsul Mulk and Sardar Tariq would also oversee the project, besides the normal Wapda institutional oversight through a committee comprising all provincial governments, projects consultants and the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority.

He said Wapda had ensured fast track mobilisation of contractors and machinery had already reached Chilas. He said the key target was to ensure completion of all diversions in two-three years, followed by construction of dam and power facilities in about five years so that the project could be commissioned by 2028 and to ensure its completion within approved costs.

Responding to a question, the Wapda chairman said India had committed a number of violations of the Indus Waters Treaty on the western rivers and was bent upon usurping Pakistan’s water rights, but those violations had nothing to do with this mega dam.

He said the Diamer-Bhasha dam area was very much part of Pakistan. “We are building the dam within our territory. The objections being raised by India are irrelevant, frivolous and ridiculous,” he added.

He said the project had remained stuck for decades due to various reasons which had been addressed and it would be completed within the stipulated deadline of 2028 to achieve its main purposes of water storage and production of 4,500MW of cheap and affordable electricity for meeting energy requirements of the country.

On the occasion, Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda said the contractors and machinery had reached Chilas city in Gilgit-Baltistan to formally begin construction work on the project that had full support of the armed forces and Strategic Services Division and the government of China without which the project could not have reached this stage.

He said the Diamer-Bhasha dam would change the destiny of the country and no spoiler would be able to jeopardise the project. He said the project was being initiated at a time when nobody was ready to take up such a huge project anywhere in the world.

The project would generate about 16,500 jobs and reinvigorate cement, steel and transport sectors as about 1,000 trucks would daily move on the roads to supply material to the dam site, the minister said.

Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing said it was a historic day for the people and the government of Pakistan to move the project to construction phase after four decades of planning and designing exercise. He said it was a very significant project that would support Pakistan’s economy and greatly contribute to irrigation, environment and energy sectors, besides controlling national disasters.

He said the contractor — Power China — was the most experienced public sector company of this field and had to its credit the construction of Three Gorges Dam.

The 6.4 MAF water storage capacity of the dam will reduce the current water shortage in the country of 12 MAF to 6.1 MAF. It will add 35 years to the life of Tarbela Dam by reducing sedimentation. An area of 1.23 million acres of land will be brought under agriculture due to this dam.

Published in Dawn, May 21st, 2020


The Newspaper’s Correspondent May 21, 2020

LARKANA: Lawyers took out a rally on Wednesday in protest against the federal government’s decision to construct Diamer-Bhasha dam over the Indus.

Larkana District Bar Association general secretary Imdad Ali Tunio, Ali Akbar Dahar, Sajid Mahesar and others were in the lead of the procession taken out from the bar. Carrying placards and chanting slogans, they assembled at VIP Road near the court and blocked its one lane. They said that since 1859, Sindh’s water share had been “robbed” through Anderson Committee, Cotton Committee and in 1945 Rao Committee.

If seen historically, Punjab had been “stealing” Sindh’s water, they said. Even after 1991’s water apportionment accord arrived at during Jam Sadiq Ali days, it was Punjab again that had violated the word, they added.

The international water treaties in clear terms said that riparian areas had the first right on water, but in contravention to it, Sindh’s water had been driven away through illegally constructed canals and branches on River Indus.

They censured the federal government for awarding the contract of the dam without consulting the provinces and “robbing” Sindh’s water. Technical data showed that there was no surplus water in the system; how could the required water be kept in the dam, they asked?

Already, they said, thousands of acres of virgin agriculture land had been eroded and ruined in Badin and Thatta districts as mandatorily required water to be released downstream Kotri into Arabian Sea was not available in the Indus.

Published in Dawn, May 21st, 2020


Dawn Report May 21, 2020

KARACHI: Sindh government’s spokesperson Murtaza Wahab has said the provincial government sees federal cabinet’s decision to remove three members of Irsa as unconstitutional and demands the federation immediately reverse it.

Mr Wahab said in a statement issued here on Wednesday that people of Sindh would not accept the unilateral decision under any circumstances and the Sindh government would take legal action if the centre did not take it back.

He said that members of the Indus River System Authority (Irsa) had to be appointed in consultation with provinces and hence the provinces had the right to challenge the decision. The federal government should refrain from thrusting its unilateral decisions on provinces, he said.

He said that those who accused others of bias were themselves showing bias towards Sindh. The federal government and its ministers from Sindh who were always ready to attack the provincial government over trivial issues had kept mum on this stark injustice with smaller provinces, he said.

Growers reject removal of Irsa members

HYDERABAD: Sindh Chamber of Agriculture (SCA) has rejected amendment to Indus River System Authority Act and removal of federal and Sindh members from Irsa by the federal cabinet.

In a statement issued here on Wednesday SCA president Miran Mohammad Shah slammed federal cabinet for amending Irsa Act to do away with membership of federation, Sindh and Punjab from Irsa.

He said that Irsa was a constitutional body and the federation could not take any decision about it without consulting the provinces and appointment or their removal of members.

He regretted that the federal government did not even consult Council of Common Interests and thrust its decision by removing member from Sindh, Syed Mazhar Ali Shah.

He said that Section-6 of Irsa Act said that no issue could be discussed without consent of members and advised Sindh government to immediately take up the matter in CCI. Apparently, the decision to remove three members from Irsa followed a dispute between ministry of water and Irsa over contract of telemetry system for a company, he said.

He said that under the Constitution, federal government did not have power to remove Irsa members. Since distribution of water between provinces was a sensitive issue a constitutional body like Irsa was established to ensure judicious distribution of water, he said.

He said that medium level flood was being anticipated in this monsoon season and involving Irsa in controversies at this juncture would harm congenial relations between the federation and provinces over water distribution.

He said that if anyone had objections over any member of Irsa, the matter should have been taken up in CCI and demanded the federal government immediately reinstate Sindh’s member in Irsa.

Published in Dawn, May 21st, 2020


By RECORDER REPORT on May 21, 2020

Spokesperson for the Sindh Government and Advisor on Law, Environment and Coastal Development Murtaza Wahab has said that the Sindh government has declared the decision of the federal cabinet to remove three IRSA members unconstitutional.

Responding to the decision of the federal cabinet, he said that the members of IRSA are appointed in consultation with the provinces.

Wahab said that the provinces had the right to take legal action against the decision.

The spokesperson advised the PTI government to refrain from making unilateral decisions.

He said that the decisions of those who accused others of bias were based on an open bias which was rejected by the people of Sindh.

The spokesperson said that the federation should immediately reverse its “unconstitutional decision” or the Sindh government would take a legal action.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020


By Zaigham Naqvi Published: May 21, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Water Resources Minister Faisal Vawda on Wednesday rejected India’s objections to Diamer-Bhasha dam, saying that the enemy was perturbed because the work on the much-awaited mega project got underway.

Speaking at a joint press conference with Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) Chairman Lt-Gen (retd) Muzammil Hussain and Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing, the minister said that funding for the project had already been arranged.

“The work on Diamer-Bhasha dam has started by the present government. The budget is being discussed at all levels for the water and power sector. There will also be the budget for this project,” he said. “Rs78 billion will be spent for the welfare of the people of Diamer-Bhasha,” he added.

“The government will provide 30% funding, while the rest will be arranged by the Wapda,” Vawda said. He thanked the Chinese government, the Supreme Court, armed forces, Wapda, and the entire team of water resources ministry for their support to launch the mega projects.

The minister said that last year Mohmand dam project was started after 54 years. “Currently, feasibility study of the Sindh Barrage is being carried out and after Diamer-Bhasha dam, work on the Sindh Barrage project will also be started,” he added.

On the occasion, Wapda Chairman Lt-Gen (retd) Muzammil Hussain gave technical details of the dam project. “India’s objections to Diamer-Bhasha dam are baseless,” he said, adding that Indus basin agreement had its own significance, but the treaty was being violated by India.

“Diamer-Bhasha dam is being built inside the Pakistani area and we will complete the dam section [of the project] in five years,” he said. “Various committees, comprising representatives of relevant ministries, have been formed for the completion of the project,” he added.

The Wapda chief revealed that Pakistan had the capacity to store only 10% of its water resources. “Water is available for 80 days a year,” he said, adding that work had begun on plans to store more than a million-acre feet of water.

For the first time in the history of Pakistan, two projects were launched in a period of 12 months, Muzammil Hussain said. “The Mohmand dam project will be completed by December 2024, while Diamer-Basha will be commissioned in 2028,” he added.

About the availability of funds for the mega project, the Wapda chairman said that Diamer-Bhasha dam would cost Rs474 billion. “The government will provide 30% investment for the project, while Wapda will invest Rs100 billion,” he said. “[We] will also issue bonds for the dam.”

Giving salient features of the dam, he said that the project would generate 6,000 megawatts of hydel power and it create 16,000 new jobs. Besides, he added, Diamer-Bhasha dam would increase the lifespan of the Tarbela dam by 35 years.

Responding to a question, Lt-Gen (retd) Muzammil Hussain said that the decision to build it as an RCC [roller-compacted-concrete] dam was taken by experts. He added that all the dams being built on the Indus river would be RCC dams.

“In the event of any glacier lake spill in the future, the dam will be protected,” he said. He also said that the work of Diamer-Bhasha dam was being supervised by the Supreme Court itself, while it would be constructed by the Diamer-Bhasha Company.

Speaking on the occasion, Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing said that Diamer-Bhasha dam was a huge project. “The start of construction of Diamer-Bhasha dam is a historic opportunity for Pakistan. It will play an important role in the economic development of Pakistan.”

He said that in addition to economic development, the project would also help prevent floods and generate cheaper electricity. “The industrial sector will benefit from it and Pakistan’s exports will increase. This project will prove beneficial to the economy of Pakistan.”

(With additional input from APP.)


BR Web Desk May 22, 2020

A National Engineering Services Pakistan Limited (Nespak) led joint venture has won the consultancy contract of Diamer Bhasha Dam Project through competitive bidding. The agreement was signed at a ceremony held at Mega Hydel Complex, Islamabad.

General Manager/ Chief executive Officer/ Project Director Diamer Bhasha Development Company and Diamer Bhasha Consultants Group (DBCG) authorized representative Dr Tahir Masood, MD Nespak, signed the agreement on behalf of Wapda and the Joint Venture respectively.

Ministry of Water Resources Federal Minister Muhammad Faisal Vawda, Federal Secretary Muhammad Ashraf, Joint Secretary Syed Muhammad Mehar Ali Shah, WAPDA Chairman Lt Gen Muzammil Hussain (Retd), Nespak Managing Director Dr Tahir Masood, WAPDA Authority Members, senior officers and representatives of the consulting firms were also present on the occasion.

According to the spokesperson of the Nespak the consultants will provide services through a joint venture comprising six Firms as JV members/partners, namely, National Engineering Services Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd – Pakistan (Lead Firm), Pöyry (AFRY) Switzerland Limited – Switzerland, MWH (Stantec) International, Inc – USA, DOLSAR Engineering Inc Co – Turkey, Associated Consulting Engineers ACE Ltd – Pakistan and MM Pakistan Pvt Ltd – Pakistan.

The Consultants’ scope of services includes detailed design review, construction design, construction supervision, contract administration and environment and resettlement aspects. It is pertinent to mention that NESPAK has been assigned the lead role in the contract for consultancy services in such a mega water sector project.

Diamer Bhasha Dam is proposed to be constructed on the Indus River. The site is 315km upstream of Tarbela Dam Project, some 180km below the town of Gilgit and 40km downstream of Chilas, the headquarter of District Diamer in Gilgit-Baltistan.

The project comprises construction of 272 metres high Roller Compacted Concrete Dam (RCC), spillway, power intake, waterway tunnels and underground powerhouse one each on right & left side Abutment.

The project is scheduled to be completed in one hundred two months. On completion, the dam as proposed will be one of the largest RCC Dam in the World, the reservoir project will store about 8.1 million acre feet (MAF) of water, the powerhouse will generate 4500 megawatt (MW) of low-cost hydel electricity and help mitigating floods. About 1.23 MAF of land will be irrigated because of Bhasha Dam.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020



The Newspaper’s Staff Reporter Updated May 11, 2020

ISLAMABAD: In a tug of war among the water resources ministry, the regulator and the contractors, a multi-million dollar foreign-funded project planned to overcome inter-provincial distrust over water distribution and theft is lying in the doldrums.

As a result, a multilateral lending agency has concluded to cancel its financial assistance committed to the project as ‘misprocurement’. The project was taken in hand on the orders of the prime minister following a unanimous decision of the Council of Common Interests to address all future complaints by the provinces about water theft and mismanagement.

The government had arranged a $35 million soft loan from the World Bank for additional financing of the Water Sector Capacity Building and Advisory Services Project. A major part of this credit was earmarked for hydraulic calibration of 17 key sites and automation of discharge monitoring of all sites — commonly called as telemetry system. Interestingly, a similar project completed at a cost of over Rs350 million in 2005 was scrapped owing to similar disputes and technical hitches.

A probe body, appointed by the water resources secretary under directives of the prime minister, has blamed the members of the Indus River System Authority (Irsa) for destroying a multi-million dollar telemetry project planned to overcome inter-provincial distrust over water shares and distributions.

The ministry of water resources has withdrawn the project from Irsa and transferred it for implementation to the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) that had previously got the same project installed that could not take off. For a change, the ministry has now directed Irsa that the project be executed by Wapda as ‘deposit work’ sponsored by Irsa and all its members should be involved in the supervision of the Wapda’s deposit work (as contractor) and make payments to Wapda on satisfactory takeover. In the meanwhile develop technical team to take over the project on completion to avoid repeat of 2006-07 failures.

Irsa members have on the other hand blamed the senior most officers of the water resources ministry for conflict of interest in derailing the project through one-sided briefings to the prime minister and blaming one of them for jeopardising the project right at the time of its contract so that it could be given to second bidder the National Engineering Services Pakistan (Nespak). They denied to have any opposition to the project and said they had in fact proposed to address misgivings over water distribution.

The water resources ministry officials accused by Irsa, on the other hand, said the major issue was the capacity constraints of the regulator. They said the email purportedly derailing the project was a routine final check before the contract is awarded was by no means binding on Irsa. However, the unanimous decision by Irsa showed the deficiencies highlighted were genuine and the regulator had failed throughout the process to notice them. “That shows their capacity,” they said, adding that the regulator had also put on record that this was a “blessing in disguise” otherwise “Irsa would have again wasted public exchequer’s money”.

Documents seen by Dawn and confirmed by the ministry and Irsa suggest that the project veered off the track just before the regulator was set to award the contract for consultancy services to a contractor — MM Pakistan — in June 2019 after a lengthy procurement process beginning in September 2018 under the World Bank guidelines. The second-ranked bidder was Nespak.

Interesting developments followed. During the second round of contract negotiations with MM Pakistan, team leader of the project, who had remained with the bid evaluation committee that ranked MM Pakistan as the top consultant, in an email asked Irsa to certify the expertise of key experts and performance of the contractor. It was pointed out that contractor’s staff was not qualified for the project.

Given the veracity, the five-member Irsa concluded after cross checking from the top bidder and the Punjab government where the bidder had related projects executed that telemetry project consultancy could not be awarded to MM Pakistan for major shortfalls.

The regulator has put on record that procurement specialist of the project reported to an Irsa meeting that a senior World Bank official had advised that after cancellation of existing process of bidding further line of action of rebidding will be initiated. Irsa, therefore, “decided with consensus to go for re-bidding” and requested the World Bank to issue a no-objection letter for rebidding.

However, the World Bank noted that only two legitimate courses of action exist. The contract be awarded to MMP with the condition to ensure adequately experienced staff and supervise the project closely. In case Irsa felt that the risk of poor outcome was too high, the process be cancelled entirely and bank would drop this activity from the loan as “misprocurement”.

As a result on December 31, 2009, the water resources ministry directed the regulator to develop the project from its own resources. Irsa prepared the project afresh in consultation with the ministries of finance, planning and water resources and called a meeting on April 30 this year for its formal approval and to begin the contract process. On April 24, the water resource ministry ordered that project be executed by Wapda.

An inquiry committee comprising senior officials of the flood commission, Wapda and water resources ministry found faults with shortlisting of consultants but also noted that the project team leader who raised questions was also part of the evaluation committee earlier. The inquiry committee noted that Irsa not only lacked capacity to handle the project procurement and contracting, its members were also opposed to the project and the authority lacked technical staff to maintain the telemetry system.

Published in Dawn, May 11th, 2020


By ​ Our Correspondent Published: May 11, 2020

RAWALPINDI: Construction of the Rs6 billion Daducha dam project will be completed in three years on a fast track basis. This is up from the initial government estimates of two-years.

This was stated by Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA) and Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa) Chairman Tariq Mehmood Murtaza on Sunday.

He said that the construction of the dam will help provide around 25 million gallons of water per day to Rawalpindi, fulfilling its water requirements. Moreover, he said that supply from the dam will help lessen the load on underground water sources in the region. Murtaza further said that the dam’s lake will have a storage capacity of 60,000 acres feet, while its dead level storage capacity will be 15,000 acres feet. Its live storage capacity will be 45,000 acres feet.

Wasa, he said, will construct a mainline for the supply of water from the dam to Rawalpindi apart from a plant to treat this water.

Murtaza said that the Punjab government had approved the water supply projects of Daducha and Chhann dams and soon construction work on both projects will commence.

Meanwhile, Cantonment Board President Brigadier Ijaz Qamar Kiani visited the Daducha Dam project site and inspected the area.

Late last month, the Punjab government had invited bids from qualified firms for the construction of the long-pending Daducha Dam. Meanwhile, the provincial government had started the land acquisition process for the water reservoir.

The project is slated to be completed under the supervision of the Punjab irrigation department while Wasa will install a filtration plant on the Daducha Dam, worth up to Rs7 billion. Apart from this, the authority will also be responsible for laying the water distribution network.

Sources say that the long-pending project has become a priority for the incumbent government due to complaints of dwindling water supply in the garrison city. It added that the land acquisition process is expected to be finished by the time the qualifying firms are awarded the contract for the project

Published in The Express Tribune, May 11th, 2020.


Syed Irfan RazaMay 12, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday directed the authorities concerned to immediately start construction of dams in the country.

“It will also boost construction and related industries and provide a huge stimulus to our economy,” the prime minister said while presiding over a meeting.

Ensuring water security is the foremost priority of the government, he said.

“Besides optimum utilisation of available water resources for agricultural needs, construction of dams would help meet energy requirements at an affordable rate,” he added.

He said the use of local material and expertise be accorded priority during the construction work which would provide job opportunities to people.

Says it will boost construction and related industries, provide a huge stimulus to economy

The meeting was attended by Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda, Minister for Planning Asad Umar, Minister for Information Senator Shibli Faraz, Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Ali Amin Gandapur, SAPM on information retired Lt Gen Asim Bajwa, Wapda Chairman retired Lt-Gen Muzammil Hussain and senior officers.

The prime minister was briefed about the progress of resolution of all pending issues related to construction of Diamer Bhasha Dam. The meeting was apprised that all issues related to the project, including settlement, detailed roadmap for mobilisation of financial resources, had been resolved and work at the site was ready for commencement.

The construction of the dam will create 16,500 jobs and utilise huge quantity of cement and steel which will give boost to the industry besides resolving water storage and producing 4500 megawatt affordable electricity.

The 6.4 million acre feet (MAF) water capacity of the dam will reduce the current water shortage in the country from 12 MAF to 6.1 MAF.

It will also add 35 years to the life of Tarbela Dam by reducing sedimentation.

The meeting was informed that Rs78.5 billion would be spent on social development of the area around Diamer Bhasha Dam.

The Wapda chairman briefed the meeting about progress of on the construction of Mohmand Dam that had been started recently.

He also apprised of the progress on resolution of pending issues related to Dasu Dam project.

He expressed satisfaction over the progress made so far and directed to ensure expeditious commencement of work on the Dasu project.

The meeting was informed that funds had been arranged for Noulong Dam in Jhal Magsi district of Balochistan and the work would commence next year.

The prime minister emphasised launching of work on Sindh Barrage as a priority project. Sindh Barrage has huge benefits of addressing agriculture needs of the province and will stop erosion of soil from seawater besides improving drinking water supply to the urban centres of Sindh.

He appreciated the efforts of the Ministry of Water Resources and Wapda for pursuing projects to ensure self-reliance in food security, industry and exports.

Published in Dawn, May 12th, 2020


By ​ Our Correspondent Published: May 13, 2020

LAHORE: Punjab Governor Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar has reprimanded bureaucrats for creating hurdles for Aab-e-Pak Authority which was created to provide safe drinking water to people at their doorsteps. He said bureaucrats should mend their ways or he would be compelled to expose them in front of the public in the coming days.

He expressed these views during the inauguration of a filtration plant installed by the Sarwar Foundation in th deputy commissioner’s office on Tuesday.

He regretted that some bureaucrats had become so senseless that they had no remorse even if underprivileged children die of drinking contaminated water.

The governor added that there was no excuse for the delay in the provision of safe drinking water for the people.

Sarwar Foundation Vice Chairperson Begum Perveen Sarwar and district administration officials were also present on the occasion.

The governor maintained that it was his objective to provide clean and safe drinking water to the people of Punjab as well as other provinces.

The governor further said that he was working on the Aab-e-Pak Authority project for the past one and a half years since Prime Minister Imran Khan directed him to lead the project and ensure provision of safe drinking water to people across Punjab.

He elaborated that the procedural snags had almost wasted two long years to keep the authority limping, otherwise around 20 million people would have been able to switch to safe and clean drinking water.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 13th, 2020.


May 13, 2020

It appears that we are finally ready to begin construction work on Diamer-Bhasha Dam. Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Lt Gen (retd) Asim Saleem Bajwa has tweted that the dam will produce 4,500MW of power, irrigate 1.2 million acres of agricultural land, and enhance Tarbela Dam’s useful life by 35 years.

The PM has directed officials to use local materials and expertise during construction to increase the domestic economic benefits derived from construction. Given that the dam has been in limbo for almost 15 year, and has gone through problems with financing and resettlement issues throughout that tim, the news must be taken cautiously. It also doesn’t help that the 10-plus years it will take to build the time could end up being extended because of uncertainty around the availability of funding.

Brighter news came from the smaller Mohamand Dam and Dasu hydropower projects, where construction work continues at pace, and Naulong dam in Balochistan, work on which should start this year with funding already set aside. The PM has also shown interest in the need to kick off the Sindh barrage project to support agriculture and drinking water supply in the province. Unfortunately, even here, simple damming is not the long-tem solution to the country’s water woes. In fact, given how long it takes to build a dam, it isn’t even a short-tem solution. Water waste from the ageing canal network in Pakistan remains extraordinarily high, and no government has shown anything more than a passing interest in addressing it. That is because repairs don’t involve photo-ops and ribbon cuttings. But it needs to be done. Also, Pakistan has one of the world’s highest rates of water use and one of the lowest of productivity.

Our economy is dependent on a commodity we do not have. To address this, we need to transition to less water-intensive crops, but for that, someone will have to convince the sugar barons to switch to something else.


By Khaleeq Kiani | 5/14/2020 12:00:00 AM

ISLAMABAD: The government on Wednesday signed a Rs442 billion contract with a joint venture of China Power and Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) for the construction of the Diamer-Bhasha dam.

The Chinese state-run firm holds 70 per cent and the FWO, a commercial arm of the Armed Forces of Pakistan, 30pc share in the consortium. The contract covers construction of a diversion system, main dam, access bridge and the 21MW Tangir hydropower project.

The eight million acre feet (MAF) reservoir with 272metre height will be the tallest roller compact concrete (RCC) dam in the world. It will have a spillway, 14 gates and five outlets for flushing out silt. The diversion system involves two tunnels and a diversion canal all three having one kilometre length each. The bridge a box girder structure under the contract will be constructed downstream of the dam structure while the 21MW power plant will be built to meet energy requirements of the project during construction.

Prime Minister Imran Khan was briefed on the progress of the project a couple of days ago. The construction work on dam will begin in a couple of weeks.

Diamer-Bhasha dam project chief executive officer Amir Bashir Chaudhry and authorised representative of China Power Yang Jiandu signed the agreement on behalf of the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) and the joint venture, respectively. Water Resources Minister Faisal Vawda, Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing, Water Resources Secretary Mohammad Ashraf, Wapda chairman retired Lt Gen Muzammil Hussain, Pakistan Army engineer-in-chief Lt Gen Moazzam Ejaz and FWO director general Maj Gen Kamal Azf ar attended the signing ceremony.

The Wapda chairman expressed the hope that the Diamer-Bhasha dam would be completed as per the timelines to cope with the increasing water and electricity requirements of the country. The dam project with a total financial outlay of about Rs1,406.5bn would be completed in 2028, he said.

The total financial outlay includes land acquisition and resettlement, confidence building measures for social uplift of the local people, construction of dam and power houses.

Gen Hussain said the project would have a gross storage capacity of 8.1 MAF and power generation capacity of 4,500MW, with an annual generation of 18.1bn units. However, the electromechanical and power generation project would be taken up separately at a later stage.

Wapda has already awarded a Rs27.182bn contract for dam`s consultancy services to Diamer-Bhasha Consultants Group (DBCG). The consultancy agreement includes construction design, construction supervision and contract administration of the dam project.

The DBCG joint venture comprises 12 top-ranked national and foreign consultingfirms-Nespak(Pakistan),Associate Consulting Engineers (Pakistan), Mott MacDonald Pakistan, Poyry (Switzerland), Montgomery Watson and Harza (MWH) International-Stantec (USA), Dolsar Engineering (Turkey), Mott McDonald International (England), China Water Resources Beifang Investigation, Design and Research Company (China), Mirza Associates Engineering Services (Pakistan), Al-Kasib Group of Engineering Services (Pakistan), Development Management Consultant (Pakistan) and MWH Pakistan, with Nespak as the lead firm.

These firms have a vast experience of providing consultancy services for mega water projects the world over.

The Council of Common Interests (CCI) had approved the project for construction in 2010, but it suffered delays because of international lending agencies which remained associated with the project but later backtracked because of opposition from India.

The government has already spent about Rs170bn on the project since then on land acquisition and other expenses. In view of the lenders` resistance, it was decided about four years ago to divide the multi-purpose project intotwomajorcomponents-Rs650bn worth of dam project to be constructed with the public sector funds and Rs750bn worth of power project most probably to be develope d in independ-ent power producer (IPP) mode at a later stage.

The core project development (dam structure) alone is estimated to cost almost Rs270bn. The project offers a very attractive internal economic return of 15.7pc even at a 12pc discount rate, according to project documents.

The project is designed to serve as the main storage dam of the country, besides Mangla and Tarbela dams, and its storage would be helpful for alleviating flood losses. The dam will have a 6.4 MAF usable water storage capacity.

The project is estimated to help alleviate acute irrigation shortage in the Indus basin irrigation system caused by progressive siltation of the existing reservoirs, besides substantially contributing to reduce intensity, quantum and duration of floods and reduce magnitude and frequency of floods in the River Indus downstream.

The project will also have trickledown ef fects on all sectors of the economy by accelerating development and creating job opportunities, besides improving availability of water and clean energy. The completion of the dam would increase the country`s storage capacity from 30 to 48 days and make power generation facilities an attractive future investment by the private sector to add 4,500MW of additional electricity to the national grid.


By APP Published: May 15, 2020

BEIJING: China on Friday rejected India’s objection to the construction of Diamer-Bhasha dam in Gilgit-Baltistan region, saying that the economic cooperation between China and Pakistan was aimed at promoting development and improving the well-being of the local population.

At a regular briefing in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry’s Spokesperson Zhao Lijian said that the dam project was mutually-beneficial and win-win for the “two all-weather friends” and strategic cooperative partners.

“China and Pakistan conduct the economic cooperation in order to promote the economic development and improve the well-being of the local population,” Zhao said, while responding to a question from APP.

The Diamer-Bhasha Dam is a 4,500-megawatt project with an estimated cost of $15 billion and would be one of the largest dams in the world after completion. Prime Minister Imran Khan this week directed for immediately starting construction activities of the dam.

The Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) said on Wednesday the contract of the construction of the Diamer-Bhasha dam had been awarded to a joint venture between Power China and Frontier Works Organisation (FWO).

Zhao rejected Indian external affairs ministry’s objections to the project. He said that China’s position on the issue of Kashmir was consistent and added that the dam project was mutually beneficial and win-win for the two all-weather friends and strategic cooperative partners.

Responding to another question, the spokesperson highly praised a resolution unanimously passed by the Senate of Pakistan on Thursday that thanked China and President Xi Jinping for support to Pakistan in the fight against Covid-19.


“China appreciates the relevant resolution. Since the start of the outbreak, China and Pakistan have supported and worked closely with each other to jointly fight the virus. We will never forget that,” Zhao told reporters.

He said that during China’s fight against the virus, Pakistan poured in its domestic resources to help Beijing with medical supplies. Now, he added, China had also provided batches of grants to meet Pakistan’s needs, sent experts and mobilised all sectors of society to donate supplies to help Pakistan.

He remarked that the virus knew no borders and races. To smear and stigmatise other countries was to interfere with international cooperation against the virus. The right and the wrong were very clear and the justice always prevailed.

“We highly appreciate Pakistan’s objective and just position on this issue and we will like to continue to uphold the vision of a community with shared future for mankind, strengthen cooperation with international community including Pakistan and work together to win this fight against the virus.”


The Newspaper’s Correspondent May 17, 2020

LARKANA: Reacting over federal government’s plan to build Bhasha Dam, Awami Tehreek (AT) on Saturday called for winding up the project, believing that it would cause harm to Sindh’s interests.

In a statement issued to the media, AT office-bearers including its organiser Lal Jarwar said that going for building the dam was tantamount to sprinkling salt on the wounds of Sindh.

“A particular pro-Punjab group has since long been hatching conspiracies against Sindh with the aim of robbing away the smaller province’s share in water,” they alleged.

According to the statement, historically, people of Sindh oppose all such plans tooth and nail and stakeholders belonging to the province launched several joint movements against any dam to be built over River Indus.

Referring to the recent popular trend on Twitter against the project [Bhasha Dam], the AT leaders said people of Sindh always raised their voice against construction of any dam, canal or tributary over the Indus.

They said it was a message to the world in true sense and the government of Pakistan that sharing of Indus water by provinces was protected under treaties governed by international laws. They accused Punjab of repeatedly violating the decisions of the relevant commissions and committees formed for the water apportionment. They also alleged that before and after the Partition, it [Punjab] had developed a practice of doing this time and again.

“It’s a bitter truth that due to non-release of the mandatorily required water into Arabian Sea from Indus, it [the sea] has eroded thousands of acres of fertile land and continued to destroy precious mangrove forests which drastically affected the echo system,” they said.

The sea erosion and widespread damage to mangroves has rendered thousands of fishermen, other local people and peasants jobless, according to AT leaders.

They said a huge population living here [in Sindh] was in search of sweetwater.

Therefore, they said, the prime minister should reverse his decision to build the dam and ensure that Sindh was given its right of fully sharing Indus water.

Published in Dawn, May 17th, 2020



By Hafeez Tunio Published: May 7, 2020

KARACHI: Despite spending billions of rupees on the installation of Reverse Osmosis (RO) plants in various districts of Sindh to ensure the supply of clean drinking water, most of the plants have stopped functioning due to their substandard quality. What’s more, employees hired to run the plants have not been paid their salaries for months, forcing them to take to the streets and stage a protest.

According to officials figures, the provincial government set up around 2,222 RO plants worth Rs13 billion in water-starved areas of Tharparkar, Badin, Matiari, Sanghar, Benazirabad, Thatta, Umerkot, Khairpur Mir and other districts of Sindh. The scheme, however, could not see the light of the day as the majority of the plants remain closed for maintenance. Workers say that the government bought machinery of substandard quality because of which the plants have been going out of order since the early days of their installation.

“We haven’t been paid a penny for the last 10 months. We have now locked the RO plant and will not resume our work until our salaries are released,” a contractual employee who was protesting with other colleagues in Bhit Shah of Matiari District said.

The closure of the plants has led to severe water scarcity in various districts where underground water is unfit for human consumption.

The ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government claimed to have installed Asia’s biggest RO plant in Mithi, Thar, with a total capacity to filter two million gallons of potable water in a day. PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari inaugurated the plant in 2015, and a huge sum of money was spent on its publicity. However, the fate of the plant hangs in the balance as it hardly runs three to four months in a year.

“This plant has been closed because we don’t have membrane for water treatment,” Jawaharlal Kella, a public health engineer who looks after the RO plants in Thar, told The Express Tribune.

“Reverse osmosis (RO) is a water purification process that uses a partially-permeable membrane to remove ions, unwanted molecules, and larger particles from drinking water, making it fit for drinking,” he said. “Since we have run short of membranes, our plant is closed for many days.”

As against his claim, locals from the area say that the plant has been non-functional for the last three months.

According to government figures, around 600 RO plants of various capacities had been set up in various areas of Thar. Out of the total, 60 per cent are closed per official figures.

“Even those plants which are still functional are not working properly because of which people are not being supplied clean drinking water,” an official in public health who is familiar with the development said.

Initially, several Sindh cabinet members and PPP leaders denied the allegations, saying that the reports of plant closures are untrue. Later, however, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah confessed that the RO plants have been closed and called a meeting to discuss the matter in October 2018.

The CM not only ordered a committee to probe the issue, but he also directed the finance department to release Rs336 million for the maintenance of RO plants. Sources privy to the development said that the funds were released to Pak Oasis Company, which has installed almost all the RO plants. But after two to three months, the same situation came to the fore.

“How will the plants work when all are faulty and substandard machinery is used?” an official of the public health engineering department said. “The commission members visited the RO plants in Thar and other areas, expressed serious concerns about the issue, and held the public health department and others responsible for it. They directed the departments concerned to revamp the system, but all went in vain,” he said. Taking notice of the non-functional RO plants, the Chief Secretary Sindh Syed Mumtaz Ali Shah constituted a committee comprising officials of public health, the NED University and Pak Oasis Company last year. The recommendations made by the committee, however, were not made public.

Despite many attempts, the public health engineering department’s secretary was unwilling to speak on this issue. However, his assistant referred the matter to the Pak Oasis Company.

When approached, a senior official of the Pak Oasis Company, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that funds were not released to them by the Sindh government, which has created the problem.

“We get a quarterly budget from the provincial government. They have not issued the money for the last two quarters that is why the plants could not undergo maintenance,” he said. “The situation will return to normalcy as soon as the government releases the fund.”

Published in The Express Tribune, May 7th,2020.


By Editorial Published: May 7, 2020

Water is life — more so in the times of the coronavirus pandemic when keeping washed and clean is one important precaution to keep the deadly virus at bay. Ironically, water is not available, as per the needs, in a large part of the country. Karachi, despite being the most modern city of the country, has also to struggle for water. The problem of water shortage afflicts Karachi residents throughout the year, but it becomes acute during summer months. With temperatures rising above 40 degrees Celsius in the second week of Ramazan, many areas in the city are experiencing an acute shortage of water, particularly Nazimabad, Malir and Baldia Town, and Pak Colony. In this hot weather, there are areas in district West where people get water in their home taps after 30-45 days. The prolonged lockdown has, however, also proved a blessing as water supply has improved in several blocks of Gulistan-e-Jauhar, F B Area, Gulshan-e-Iqal and other neighbourhoods. People in scarcity areas are somehow meeting their requirements by purchasing expensive water tankers.

Karachi’s population is 25 million. The city needs around 12,000 million gallons water per day (mgd) but it gets only 550mgd, which is less than half of its needs. Moreover, a considerable amount of water is lost due to leakages in the supply lines and poor maintenance of the supply system. It is a paradox that though in many areas taps at homes are dry for months together, enough water is always available through tankers and in cans. Residents of water-deficit areas find themselves in a double bind. They buy expensive water tanker and, at the same time, pay the water bills of the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board. They have to pay the Water Board bills for fear of severance of connection. Public representatives say at present consumers receive only 60% of the water being supplied and the remaining 40% is either lost due to leakages or theft. It is not difficult to know where the stolen water or that shown as lost because of leakages goes.

The K-1V water supply scheme is aimed at easing the water shortage, but it has run into problems difficult to surmount. Much of these problems stems from official apathy and mismanagement. The water scarcity is, for the most part, man-made.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 7th,2020.