our staff reporter
islamabad
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the government of Pakistan on Friday signed an agreement to invest $150 million to rehabilitate and upgrade the capacity of the Trimmu and Panjnad barrages in Punjab province.
Dr Werner E Liepach, ADB’s Country Director for Pakistan, and Mohammad Saleem Sethi, Secretary Economic Affairs Division (EAD), Government of Pakistan signed the loan agreement, while Saif Anjum, Secretary Irrigation, signed the project agreement on behalf of the government of Punjab.  “The rehabilitation and upgrading of Trimmu and Panjnad barrages will help reduce flood risks and ensure reliable water supply to 1.7 million hectares of farmland benefitting about 600,000 farming families or about 4 million people,” said Dr. Liepach.
ADB is already assisting Pakistan to improve capacity and efficiency of its aged irrigation system under a $700 million multi-tranche finance facility for the Punjab Irrigated Agriculture Improvement Program. Rehabilitation and upgrading work on Balloki and Suleimanki barrages , construction of a new Khanki barrage, as well as rehabilitation of key canals is also ongoing under the overall multi-tranche investment facility.
The two new loans provided Friday will rehabilitate the 80-90 years old Trimmu and Panjnad barrages , thereby improving farm incomes through increased productivity of irrigated agriculture while reducing losses to crops, livestock and other properties of farmers as a result of flooding.  “The project will also help train Punjab Irrigation Department staff and community members in flood risk and integrated water resources management measures and approaches,” Dr. Liepach added.
The Trimmu and Panjnad Barrages Improvement project is expected to be completed by 2020.