ISLAMABAD: Following an increase in costs of Neelum Jhelum hydropower project and Diamer Bhasha Dam, another in line is Kurram Tungi Dam as a long delay in starting work on the project has pushed up the cost by a whopping 246%.
According to a study conducted by a consultant, work on the Kurram Tungi project, located in conflict-stricken Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, kicked off in February 2003 after green signal from the federal government. First, feasibility study was completed in 2004 and based on that PC-I (project cycle) was prepared by the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda).
Earlier, the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) had approved the project at a cost of Rs17.205 billion. “However, only 5% of the budgeted sum has been disbursed in the last seven years. No physical activity has started on the project. A detailed design has reportedly been completed and review of the design is in progress,” says the study.
According to the study, Wapda has completed pre-qualification of contractors and finalised contract documents. Supervisory consultants have already been appointed, who are reviewing the contract documents.
“In the meantime, the cost of the project has shot up considerably and Wapda has submitted another PC-I amounting to Rs59.5 billion to the federal for approval,” it adds.
When approached, water and power ministry officials cited the delay in work as well as major changes to project design as reasons for the increase in cost. They pointed out that in the revised PC-I, submitted to the Planning Commission, the height of the dam had been increased from 295 feet to 322 feet, length from 925 feet to 1,035 feet and storage capacity from 0.9 million acre feet (MAF) to 1.2 MAF.
Kurram Tungi Dam will be constructed across Kurram River about nine miles upstream of Kurram Garhi headworks and 19 miles north of Bannu city in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
The dam will be 322 feet high and 1,035 feet long. It will provide storage capacity of about 1.2 MAF, of which about 0.9 MAF will be utilised for irrigation purposes.
The dam, which will also generate about 83.4 megawatts of electricity, is a multipurpose project as it will be used for irrigation, power production and potable water. It is envisaged to bring positive social and economic benefits to about 3.4 million people and contribute to improving security situation in the area.
Besides Kurram Tungi, two other major water and power projects – Neelum Jhelum and Diamer Bhasha – have faced long delays. As a result, the cost of Neelum Jhelum project, with power production capacity of 969 megawatts, has jumped to Rs274.8 billion from Rs84.5 billion. On the other hand, the cost of Diamer Bhasha Dam, which will have the capacity to produce 4,500 megawatts, has swelled to $13 billion against earlier estimate of $8.5 billion.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 19th, 2012.