NA panel warned of flash floods in summer

Secretary seeks allocation of Rs15b for flood protection project

Our Correspondent March 20, 2019
National Assembly of Pakistan. PHOTO: APP

ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary panel was warned on Tuesday that the country would face flash floods in the upcoming summer season due to heavy snow on the mountains.

Flood Commission Chairman Ahmed Kamal said the country had faced heavy snowfall in the current winter season and therefore it was expected that the country would face flash floods in the upcoming summer due to the melting of snow on glaciers.

Briefing the National Assembly Standing Committee on Water Resources, Kamal said the government should allocate funds on an immediate basis for a flood protection project.

The water resources secretary said the country had faced losses worth $19 billion due to heavy floods and rains in the past years and warned that it would face further loss if Rs15 billion was not allocated for the flood protection project.

Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) Chairman Muzammil Hussain told the committee that the government would start civil construction work on the much-awaited Mohmand Dam by next week. He added it had started mobilising machinery on the dam’s site to commence work on the important mega project.

He pointed out that the government would begin work on Tarbela-V as well with the support of the World Bank as the bank did in the construction of Tarbela-IV, which had been completed. Tarbela-IV is generating electricity and giving revenue of Rs30 billion a year.

Dismissing the negative propaganda against the mega water and power projects, the Wapda chairman said they had targeted to start work in March 2019 and now they had reached the point where they could formally commence work on it next week.

“We have no issue now in acquisition of land for Mohmand Dam and the matter has been completely resolved. We have started mobilising machinery and contractors and by next week we will start construction work on Mohmand Dam.”

He said due to delay in the construction of Diamer-Bhasha Dam, which would commence in August 2019, a Rs15-billion fund had been allocated to Mohmand Dam for beginning work on it.

The chairman informed the committee that land for the dam had been handed over by the locals and more land for the reservoir would be provided by December 2019. “We have no issue in it,” he added. He said already the project had been delayed for the past five decades and now critical land had been acquired, adding that the construction contract had been awarded to a joint venture of CGGC of China and Pakistan’s Descon.

The allocation of Rs17 billion from the federal PSDP for fiscal year 2018-19 had been approved and Wapda’s equity of Rs684 million had already been injected, he said, adding that preliminary works had commenced on the site in January 2019.

He said according to the PC-I the project was estimated to cost Rs309 billion, however, later the cost came down to Rs291 billion. The dam will have water storage capacity of 1.29 million acre feet (maf) and it will generate 800 megawatts of electricity. Hussain revealed that Wapda had requested the government to sanction the remaining Rs18 billion for the construction of another dam in Balochistan.

Briefing meeting participants on the Diamer-Bhasha Dam, he said land distribution and boundary issues between Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) and Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) had been resolved. “We have acquired more than 90% of land.” Hussain said the US, USAID and the World Bank were against the construction of the dam, adding the US was giving favour to India.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 20th, 2019.

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