ISLAMABAD: The Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) has informed a parliamentary panel that it will award a project contract for the 4th extension of Tarbela Dam by April 2013. The project which will take four years to complete will add 1,410 megawatts (MW) of electricity to the national grid.
While briefing the Senate Standing Committee on Water and Power, Wapda Chairman Syed Raghib Hussain Shah revealed that the process of awarding the contract was underway, and would be completed till March 31 next year. At present, Wapda is moving on the process of prequalifying parties interested in the contract.
The total cost of the project has been estimated around $928.9 million and the World Bank is to provide a major chunk – $840 million to be exact – of the finances. After completion of the project, the generation capacity of the existing Tarbela hydropower station will rise to 4,888MW.
Absent minister, secretary
During the briefing, the senate committee also expressed serious reservations over the absence of Minister for Water and Power Chaudhary Ahmed Mukhtar and Acting Secretary Nargis Sethi without any prior intimation to the committee.
Senators criticised their absence, noting that the worsening energy crisis had hit every sector in the country, but higher ups of the Ministry of Water and Power did not seem serious in addressing the issue.
Due to the absence of the minister and secretary, the panel had to postpone discussion on an item on the agenda regarding extensions given to officers and staff by power distribution companies and promotions to existing employees. The senate body said it could not take up the issue in the absence of the two most senior officials of the ministry.
The committee asked Wapda officials to furnish complete details of the promotions and extensions given to employees in the authority, and also provide details under which conditions these decisions had been taken.
While addressing the Wapda chairman, Senator Zahid Khan – who chairs the Senate Standing Committee on Water and Power – also expressed annoyance over the slow pace of construction on the Kurram-Tangi Dam, and said the project had been pending for three years now as attention was being diverted from it through what he termed ‘various delaying tactics’.
Shah, to his defence, informed the committee that Wapda was working diligently on the project and it would be completed in phases. He said that Wapda will hold meetings with project donors and finalise its methodology within 15 days and inform the committee about all progress made.
During the meeting the panel also expressed anger over delays in the construction of the Jabban hydropower project. In this regard too, the Wapda chairman reassured the committee that stern action will be taken against all officials involved in unnecessarily delaying work. The committee reiterated that Wapda expedite work on this project and submit a report in this regard.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 20th, 2012.