Senate body orders inquiry into hiked cost of Nai Gaj dam

Committee also orders ministry to probe into irregularities in K-4 project

Haseeb Hanif March 18, 2019
Nai Gaj dam construction case hearing held in Supreme Court: Representational Image

ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee for Planning on Monday ordered an inquiry into increased cost of the Nai Gaj dam and major irregularities in K-4—a mega project aimed to ensure water for Karachi.

During the session headed by Senator Agha Shahzeb Durrani, the committee was informed the construction of bridges and water pumping for the K-4 project will require 50MW electricity for which authorities would need to review their PC-1.

The project director for K-4 informed the committee, the project needs to have a major review of its costs as the estimates currently approved are far less than the actual costs to be incurred. The committee censured the finding and maintained those responsible for faulty planning of such a huge project should be brought to book.

Meanwhile, officials from the planning ministry revealed the project for Nai Gaj dam started with an estimated cost of Rs16.5 billion while according to its reviewed PC-1, the cost has now increased to Rs47 billion.

The cost is to be shared equally between the Sindh government and the federal government but the provincial government has not responded even after three to four written requests were sent.

"The contractor of Naii Gaj project had submitted fake guarantees," the planning ministry officials informed, to which Senator Ruksana Zuberi demanded whether a complaint against the contractor was made at the Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC).

The officials told the committee that such a complaint was filed by the Ministry Of Water Resources and also elaborated about the causes of increase in costs of the dam and change in its design.

The planning secretary told the committee designs for such projects were not of good quality in earlier phases and it was only once the work started that the problems were reported.

The committee has ordered the planning ministry to hold an inquiry against increase in costs of the Nayi Gaj Dam.

Meanwhile, project director of K-4 in his briefing to the committee said Karachi is supplied water from Dhabejee pumping station through the Keenjhar Lake.

"Out of the nine routes for K-4, we selected the 8th route which seemed to be the most feasible," he said adding in 2007, the project was approved at an estimated cost of Rs5.8 billion but after revision of the PC-1, the project's cost increased to Rs25.5 billion in 2014.

"Until now, only forty per cent of the project's work is completed."

The director further informed water pumping system is needed for the project for which we need an electricity plant with 50MW capacity.

The planning secretary also said the K-4 project will need to have another review of its costs to which the committee chairman wondered who had approved this project without any planning for the crucial water pumping mechanism.

To this, project director for K-4 said a provincial-level inquiry has been ordered to investigate the failure. The provincial government has decided to have a 50MW electricity plant for the K-4 project while Hesco has also expressed its interest to supply 50MW for the project.

"The project currently does not even have any transmission line," the panel was informed as the director added they have identified needs for bridges and road links for the 121-kilometer project.

The committee directed PEC to carry an inquiry into the blunders with respect to design and cost estimation of the project as well as submit a quarterly report to the committee detailing progress on its work.

The committee chairman noted only 33 per cent of the PSDP funds meant for education and 21 per cent for health was spent. To this, the joint chief economist said more than a month was wasted owing to rationalisation of the PSDP due to which its funds could not be released as planned.

In addition, the planning commission officials told the committee that 42 per cent of the funds for CPEC was released. To this, Senator Usman Kakar said the funds meant for CPEC were being released to MNAs.

The committee in its recommendations said the funds meant for CPEC should not be shifted to any other developmental scheme.

On the other side, the ministry of planning told the committee that the foundation stone for New Gwadar International Airport will be laid on March 28 or 29.