Foreign grant offer for Faisalabad water project may lapse

WASA seeks review of CDWP’s suggestion to consider diversion of allocation to other cities 


Khawar Randhawa April 14, 2020
PHOTO: FILE

FAISALABAD: The Central Development Working Party’s (CDWP) conditions for diverting funds from Faisalabad to other cities may result in withdrawal of a Rs6 billion foreign grant offer for a water treatment project.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) offered the grant in 2018 for the Faisalabad Water and Sanitation Agency’s (WASA) project for the construction of a distribution centre and rehabilitation of the old Jhal Khanuana Water Treatment Plant.

The capacity of the plant is 3.5MGPD (million gallons per day), which needs to be enhanced to 10MGPD in two phases as per the master plan 2018-38 prepared by JICA for water and sewerage system of Faisalabad in 2018.

JICA selected it as a priority project to be executed through the grant in aid along with Rs2 billion share from the Punjab government.

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The water source distribution system of the areas is very old and obsolete. The allocation of canal water is approved by the irrigation department. The project completion period had been set at five years and it included rehabilitation and enhancement of the water treatment plant to 10MGD capacity, 6km transmission lines, three ground reservoirs, overhead reservoir pipes and replacement of 70km distribution pipes.

The Japanese agency had ensured the provision of equipment for water quality analysis for the project aimed at benefiting 200,000 people.

WASA sent the clearance proposal to the Punjab Housing Department and it was cleared by the provincial development working party on July 2 last year. The CDWP approved the proposal on September 25, 2019 with the observations that the sponsors should negotiate with JICA to review the grant component utilisation for some other city and the period of implementation should not be over three years.

WASA Managing Director Chaudhry Faqir Mohammad explained that the concept clearance paper for the project was aligned with the master plan of water supply and sewerage disposal for Faisalabad prepared by JICA. The master plan proposed different projects for water supply, sewerage and drainage in four phases. During the CDWP meeting, the chairperson had suggested that the JICA grant may be utilised in any other city while WASA had elaborated that groundwater for Faisalabad is brackish and not drinkable.

“Moreover, WASA has a good working relationship with JICA for many years,” said the WASA MD. He said that in a meeting with the CDWP chairperson and JICA representative in Pakistan, he had pointed out that the Japanese development agency had undertaken many projects in different cities in various sectors.

He said that JICA had already committed funds for the project and much documentation and fieldwork had been completed, so diversion of the grant to another city might result in the lapse of its budget.

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WASA Planning and Development Deputy Director Ghaffar Naveed said that project clearance proposal is pending with the federal economic affairs division. He said the division had informed WASA that its proposal for the grant could not be sent to JICA till the conditions imposed by the CDWP were amended.

CDWP Planning and Housing chief Mohammad Anwar said the Faisalabad WASA had filed a representation to amend the conditions two months ago but a meeting in this regard could not be called because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“CDWP consists of representatives from all the provinces who are preoccupied with tackling the increasing cases of the disease across the country, so the meetings not possible right now,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 14th, 2020.

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