The Central Development Working Party (CDWP) recommended the Nai Gaj dam scheme for final approval of the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (Ecnec).
The CDWP, which is headed by the planning minister, has the mandate to approve only up to Rs3 billion worth of schemes. The CDWP recommends all those projects that have a higher cost to Ecnec for final approval. In total, the CDWP referred three schemes costing Rs202 billion to Ecnec for final decision.
“The Nai Gaj dam’s second cost revision worth Rs46.5 billion was referred to Ecnec for its final approval,” said a statement issued by the planning ministry.
Planning Secretary Zafar Hasan said the Nai Gaj dam would overcome water shortages and irrigate an area of 28,000 acres in Sindh, hence it needed to be dealt with jointly by the federal as well as Sindh government.
Considering the importance of the project, its completion should be expedited without any further delay, he added.
The Ministry of Water Resources had requested the CDWP to approve the project at a revised cost of Rs47.73 billion. In 2009, the then government had approved the project at a total cost of Rs16.5 billion, of which 96% would be funded by the federal government. Due to the cost overrun, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government revised the project cost upwards to Rs26.2 billion in 2012.
However, the Ministry of Water Resources and the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) have now come up with another revised PC-I, seeking increase in the cost to Rs47.7 billion. In response to that, the Ministry of Planning and Development proposed to cut the cost to Rs41.8 billion.
It also suggested that the federal government’s share should be capped at the first revised cost of Rs26.2 billion and the Sindh government should provide the additional Rs15.6 billion.
During the meeting, the Ministry of Water Resources opposed to fix the revised cost at Rs41.8 billion, according to the officials who attended the meeting. It was of the view that in case the CDWP decided to set the cost at Rs41.8 billion, it may result in a third revision of the PC-I.
The officials said the CDWP referred the matter of final cost to Ecnec for its decision. Similarly, the Sindh government also refused to fund the project on the grounds that it did not have resources, said the officials. This issue will also be decided by Ecnec.
The project is aimed at constructing a 194-foot high dam to harvest 160,000 million acre feet of floodwater and generate 4.2 megawatts of electricity. The project will also ensure 50 cusecs of continuous water flow for ecological restoration of the Manchar Lake.
The matter was also pending before the apex court that held its last hearing on Monday this week. The court had directed that the CDWP should consider the project and a report may be submitted in the Supreme Court on Friday (today), according to the planning ministry documents.
The CDWP had also considered the project in its January 3 meeting and raised queries about firm timelines for development of the command area and review of the cost and scope of the project by Wapda.
The CDWP also recommended a second revision of the emergency plan for polio eradication worth $986 million (Rs138 billion) to Ecnec, according to the planning ministry statement.
While taking a briefing on this project, the minister for planning and development said polio eradication was a national priority so a fast monitoring mechanism should be established to ensure its smooth implementation. He instructed that federal and provincial governments should work closely to eradicate the core reservoirs where sewerage water was contaminated with the polio virus. The project had been provisionally recommended to Ecnec by the CDWP last week. The CDWP also referred the Punjab police integrated command and control centre Lahore project worth Rs17.5 billion to Ecnec.
This project envisaged modernisation of the infrastructure system and capabilities of the Punjab police to proactively manage the security situation and to professionalise the police response to incidents by moving towards mission-focused deployment of resources.