Disorder at home: Multi-billion rupee project put on the backburner

Punjab govt abandons sewage treatment plant after ADB suspends funding


Fawad Ali June 21, 2015
Punjab govt abandons sewage treatment plant after Asian Development Bank (ADB) suspends funding. PHOTO: EXPRESS

RAWALPINDI:


Plans to build a sewage treatment plant costing several billion rupees have been sidelined after the Asian Development Bank (ADB) suspended funding the scheme in light of glaring irregularities and unprofessional conduct of those at the helm of affairs.


The project, which aimed at improving sanitation facilities, solid waste management, wastewater treatment and strengthening institutional capacities of the Rawalpindi Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa), was envisaged by the provincial government in 2002-03 while banking on a loan approved and released by the ADB in 1998.

“In the first phase, the ADB released Rs5 billion in 1998 for laying sewerage lines and water supply schemes across the city,” said a senior official of Wasa requesting anonymity. He said the ADB was supposed to release Rs4.5 billion in the second phase for construction of underground drains and installation of the sewage plant but it suspended funding owing to dishonesty and indifferent attitude of officials deputed at the agency.



The project, if it had materialised, would channelise the sewage of the whole city through a network of pipes to a treatment plant to remove contaminants and produce environmentally-safe treated wastewater for use in land irrigation.

“The project was of immense importance for the city than any other scheme,” said the official, adding that “The project has been lingering on for years after the ADB shelved the plan to further finance it due to a host of issues.”

According to the official, the ADB refused to release the second instalment in 2009 after ‘unsuitable officials’ were appointed as project directors. Since then, the project has been in a shambles, as relevant officials never took interest to pursue the project.

Under the project, around 72-inch pipes were supposed to be laid on both sides of Nullah Leh to accommodate the sewage of the whole city for treatment at the plant to make it useable.

Land acquisition

In 2006, Wasa acquired around 5,500 kanals at a cost of Rs480 million in Jubbar Miana, Adiala, Gorukh Pur and Gidh Pur for the sewage plant after landowners were promised jobs, health and education facilities.

“But the promise could not materialised after the government lost interest in the project,” said the official. The land, now in the possession of Wasa, has been lying useless.

Environment-friendly

It was planned that the sewerage lines would run underground with no open drain across the city. The sewers would run through the main supply lines on both sides of Nullah Leh before falling into the treatment plant.

“Under the plan, the Nullah Leh was supposed to remain dry throughout the year only to carry flood water,” the official said, adding that the rain water would not accumulate in the streets in case of heavy rains.

Besides, the treated effluent was supposed to be disposed of in Soan River and the city would remain clean.

Engineers at the Rawalpindi Development Authority and Wasa officials said that there would be no flooding in case of heavy rains had the project been executed.

Wasa officials claim they have taken up the project in several meetings with the provincial government but they never show interest in pursuing it.

Commissioner Rawalpindi Zahid Saeed told The Express Tribune the project was later made part of the Leh Expressway, and will be taken up when the expressway is taken up.

“The project can be re-initiated if the provincial government wants to pursue it,” shared the official.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 22nd, 2015.

 

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