Amid delays, Diamer-Bhasha’s PC-1 cost surges 68pc

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Diamer Bhasha Dam

Pakistan will reach ‘absolute water scarcity’ and will ‘run dry’ by 2025 are two popular expressions that have been circulating in world media over the past six months.

During a surprising development, WAPDA has sought Rs170.756 billion, through another revised PC-I, for the acquisition of land/resettlement of Diamer-Basha Dam project.

The cost of 2nd revised PC-I of the project, which has been submitted by WAPDA to Ministry of designing and Development, is 68pc above the first revised PC-I of the Acquisition of Land & Resettlement (AL&R), because the total cost of the project was estimated at Rs101.3 billion in 2015.

WAPDA has cited a rise within the number of houses built on the demarcated land, a surge within the number of trees, revised compensation package and frequent protest of the project affectees as reasons behind the large jump in the cost of revised PC-I.

According to sources, the design Commission, while showing its displeasure over the surge in the resettlement cost, has asked WAPDA to elucidate the explanations for incurring such heavy costs to national exchequer because of time and price overrun. As per the planning Commission, there should even be a comprehensive investigation by the Prime Minister’s Inspection Commission to probe into WAPDA’s proven inefficiencies within the aforementioned project.

The Central Development working group (CDWP), which met on Wednesday, referred the project to the chief Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC) for further consideration.

As per the documents, the PC-I of AL&R of Diamer-Basha Dam was approved by ECNEC in 2008 for Rs60.00 billion. However, on the recommendations of the ministerial committee constituted by then prime minister, the first revised PC-I (AL&R) was prepared by WAPDA and approved by ECNEC in 2015, costing Rs101.37 billion. Now WAPDA has submitted the 2nd revised PC-I costing Rs170.75 billion for approval on the premise of “actual payments made to the affectees through various awards by Land Acquisition Collector, Chilas”.

The government has up to now released over Rs87 billion for the PC-I of land acquisition. After 11 years, WAPDA has not yet been ready to acquire the land for the dam’s site despite all financial and administrative support. The proposed completion period has now been extended until 2028-29 as compared to 2020-21.

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