The Rs5 billion project designed to provide drinking water to 0.8 million people in Bahawalpur completed 15 months ago has come to naught for lack of staff and operational funds.
The project was initiated in 2006 after the Asian Development Bank provided Rs3 billion for funding the Mega Project of Sewage and Water Supply in Bahawalpur under the South Punjab Basic Urban Services Project (SPBUSP). In 2007, then chief minister Pervaiz Elahi provided an additional grant of Rs2 billion.
The project was completed in December 2010 with 125 tubewells installed for the purpose on Hafizpur Road, inaugarated by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif in January 2011 and given to the TMA to operate on trial basis.
Former Bahawalpur DCO Haroon Rafiq had then written a letter to the government stating that the project needed independent administration.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, City TMO Ataullah Wahla said that the administration lacked funds and staff to run the tubewells.
“I have informed Local Government Secretary Khizar Hayat Gondal,” he said, “We need around 250 staff and Rs 180 million annually to operate the scheme. The cost was estimated by Chief Engineer Mohammad Ashiq.”
“Additionally Rs1.6 million are required to pay past bills,” he said. “Eight of the 125 transformers have been stolen and will need to be replaced.”
DCO Dr Naeem Rauf said, “The government has been working to allocate funds the project in the budget. I am hopeful the project will be operational in July.”
Former Bahawalpur nazim Tariq Bashir Cheema blamed the Punjab government for being apathetic to the problems faced by the people. “We have been protesting but the government has turned a deaf ear,” Cheema said.
Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) member Tasneem Gardezi alleged that the project had been deprived of funds due to a political vendetta.
Rs180 million annually
Rs1.6 million for outstanding bills
Eight new transformers
Published in The Express Tribune, April 22nd, 2012.