ISLAMABAD: The federal government on Monday conditionally approved an upward revision of the cost of Dasu hydropower project to Rs511 billion aimed at removing bottlenecks in the land acquisition process that has delayed the construction of 2,160 megawatts power project.
The upward revision has primarily been made in the land acquisition component, where the cost is conditionally approved to increase from Rs12 billion to Rs39.6 billion –a jump of Rs27.6 billion or 230%.
Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue, Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh presided over the meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) that approved a total 10 projects worth Rs846 billion.
In addition to that, it deferred the approval of World Bank-funded 500 kV HVDC Transmission System between Tajikistan and Pakistan for Central Asia-South Asia (CASA) transmission interconnection. The proposed cost of this project was Rs46.8 billion. The ECNEC also approved modification in the design of two LNG-fired power projects, which have already started commercial operations.
“The [Ecnec] approved Dasu hydropower project (stage 1) revision of cost for land acquisition and builtup of property, subject to opinion of the Law Ministry on the revision of cost of land and builtup property after imposition of section 4 of Land acquisition Act of 1894,”, said an official handout issued by the Finance Ministry on Monday.
The Ministry of Planning and Development had sought the increase in the land acquisition cost after imposition of Section 4 by the local administration. Shaikh directed the Law Ministry to give its opinion in a week’s time to save the project from further delay.
The project is financed by the World Bank and the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda), which is designed to provide 4,320MW of electricity in two stages. Until February 2019, only 5,920 kanal land could be acquired. The provincial authorities have blamed the delay on lack of availability of land record, frequent transfer of officers and insufficient financial resources.
The locals have demanded semi-urban property rates as against approved rural category rates. The Commissioner of the Hazara division had recommended that either the locals’ demands be met or the land may be acquired through use of force.
The Ecnec also approved the project for the evacuation of Power from 2,160 MW Dasu hydropower to Islamabad via Mansehra at a revised cost of 90.8 billion. The meeting was informed that the changes in the cost of the project occurred due to changes in the exchange rate.
Observing that the revision of cost due to exchange rate fluctuation has become a regular exercise at Ecnec, the chair, directed the planning ministry to devise a mechanism to incorporate the exchange rate fluctuations in the cost of the project.
The Ecnec approved the engineering procurement and construction of the Balakot Hydropower project, Manshera, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa at the updated cost of 85.9 billion. The project will be sponsored and executed by Energy and Power Department of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government.
The financing for the project will be obtained from the Asian Development Bank (80%) and the rest (20%) from Annual Development Plan (ADP) of the provincial government. The chair directed for forming a committee to look into the matter of filing a petition to the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) for reference tariff for public sector power projects at EPC as well as COD stage.
While reviewing the “500 kV HVDC transmission system between Tajikistan and Pakistan for Central Asia- South Asia transmission interconnection (CASA-1000) Modified” the Ecnec directed that the project may be brought back to the next meeting of the Ecnec by the planning ministry after another round of consultation with the stakeholders and detailed discussion on export of energy as well to its viability.
The ECNEC also cleared the 1,223MW power plant in Balloki, and 1,230MW Haveli Bahadur Shah projects, subject to the conditions that the construction of housing complex and allied facilities may be allowed at a rate of Rs5000 per square foot already permitted by Nepra as an ex-post facto case. It directed that the sponsors should justify land acquisition for housing complex without prior approval of Ecnec and award design work to the consultants.
The Ecnec also approved the 220kV Head Faqirian Grid at a revised cost of Rs5.8 billion. The Ecnec approved extension of intensive care department of Mother-Child Health Centre and children hospital at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) at a revised cost of Rs4.3 billion.
The body approved Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Integrated Tourism Development Project at the cost of Rs17 billion. The project aims at development of tourism at K-P for economic growth, employment and revenue generation, progress of local communities, construction of roads and creating enabling environment for private sector operations.
For the establishment and operation of basic education, the Ecnec approved a revised cost of Rs4.6 billion. The Ecnec also gave prior approval for paying off major cost of this project till December 2019 with the instructions to devise a mechanism for facilitating the process of transition of this project to the provincial governments.
The Ecnec sanctioned the establishment of Pakistan Space Centre at Chakkri, Rawalpindi district, at an updated cost of Rs29.6 billion. The dualisation of Kuchlak-Zhob section of N-was also approved by Ecnec at a rationalised cost of 63.6 billion. The road section is located in Balochistan.
The Competitive and Livable City of Karachi Project (CLICK) with the sponsorship of the government of Sindh and the World Bank was also approved at a cost of Rs3.6 billion, including the World Bank loan of Rs32.2 billion.