K-P told to fix blame for canal scheme delay

Ministry demands inquiry into poor design of Warsak Canal System

Zafar Bhutta December 16, 2021


The Executive Committee of National Economic Council (Ecnec) has asked Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government to fix responsibility on those who are behind delay in developing the Warsak Canal System costing Rs16 billion.

The federal government also wants the K-P government to conclude inquiry into poor design of the project by the consultants. The issue was raised by the Ministry of Water Resources in a recent meeting of Ecnec.

The K-P administration had also not been able to release its due share of funds to execute the project, which irked the federal government.

The Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives briefed the committee about progress on the revised Warsak Canal System project for Peshawar and Nowshera districts.

Ecnec was told that the Central Development Working Party (CDWP) considered the project for endorsement in its meeting on May 31, 2021 and recommended it for review by Ecnec.

The project would cost Rs16.6 billion without foreign component and would be based on 50-50 cost sharing between the federal and provincial governments subject to cost rationalisation.

The planning ministry submitted CDWP’s recommendations to Ecnec for its approval.

It recommended that only the remaining work would be awarded on the updated Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) basis.

It said that the executing agency would rationalise the consultancy cost based on the project cost or extended implementation period of the scheme.

It will submit the revised cost before the issuance of authorisation. Planning Commission deputy chairman may be authorised to approve the rationalised cost.

The executing agency will be responsible for the design validity and construction methodology. It will ensure completion of the project within a time period of five years after the issuance of authorisation.

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Fund releases from the federal Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) will be linked with the release of operation and maintenance (O&M) and maintaining and running (M&R) plan under the provincial Annual Development Plan (ADP).

Proponents will submit a roadmap to the CDWP for M&R budget of the project and other schemes within a period of three months.

Guidelines pertaining to the contract agreement will be followed in true letter and spirit.

During discussion, Ecnec observed that the federal government had given its share of Rs4.9 billion up to June 30, 2020 whereas the K-P government released only Rs237.7 million.

As the project was to be funded by the federal and provincial governments on a 50-50 cost-sharing basis, any further fund releases by the federal government would be subject to the release of equal share by the provincial government, the meeting was told.

Ecnec also observed that the K-P government might fix responsibility for the delay in the project.

The Ministry of Water Resources stated that an inquiry into the conduct of consultants, who were responsible for poor design of the project, should be concluded.

Secondly, in view of the fact that there was no foreign exchange component for the tunnel and pumping equipment of the project, it would be difficult to attract foreign bidders.

Ecnec considered a summary submitted by the Planning Commission and approved the proposals and submissions.

However, the decision was taken with the consideration that as the project cost was to be shared equally by the federal and provincial governments, any further releases by the Centre would be subject to matching releases by the province.

All additional cost of the project, if any, would be borne by the K-P government.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 16th, 2021.

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