ISLAMABAD - The Wapda chairman on Thursday said that unfortunately the country has failed to undertake any major water reservoir project which has resulted in severe water shortage and warned of dire consequences in case the government failed to start Diamir-Bhasha dam in 2018.

Dimair-Bhasha is required to be inaugurated in 2018 otherwise it will have dire consequences for the country, he said while briefing the National Assembly Standing Committee on Water Resources. The committee met here in Federal Flood Commission, under the chairmanship of MNA Khalid Hussain Magsi, to discuss the performance of the Ministry of Water Resources and its attached departments.

Minister for Water Resources Javed Ali Shah and the Wapda chairman briefly apprised the committee about the efforts made by them to complete the ongoing projects within given time frame and problems faced by them in this regard. The minister said, “We also required to take briefing on Kalabagh dam to verify whether the information we have about the dam is correct or incorrect.”

The Wapda chairman informed that in 2016, international donors have refused to fund Diamir Bhasha dam, saying that it was in disputed area. The total cost of the project is $14 billion and Wapda is facing problem from funding it through its own resources, he added. He told the committee that during Shaukat Aziz tenure NTDC was separated from Wapda. It was a wrong decision as now Wapda is generating electricity at one location while NTDC is laying transmission line at other location. He said that PPIB is working on hydle power generation projects and it was required to be with Wapda but its working under the control of Power Division.

The committee expressed concern that the mandate of some departments like National Transmission and Dispatched Company (NTDC) had been assigned to the Ministry of Energy after the change in nomenclature of the ministries concerned which could affect their overall performance as they mainly interlink with the Ministry of Water Resources.

The Wapda chairman informed that financial close for Dasu hydel project has been achieved and work is in progress on the project. The project will cost $4 billion to $5 billion and World Bank has agreed to fund 20 percent cost of the project, he added. He further said that first unit from Golan Gol will come online by December while Tarbela 4th will start generation by February 2018.

The committee was informed by the officials of the Water Resource Ministry that that the water resource ministry has made no improvement and it is still in the initial stages the way it was 70 years ago. No recruitment was made on the important posts in the water resource ministry and they are still vacant, the officials added.

The committee highly acknowledged the viability of Nelum-Jehlum Hydel Power Project and 4th Extension project of Terbella and urged upon the need for their early completion in order to meet the requirement of electricity in Pakistan. The committee recommended that the ministry may ensure the completion of all projects within given time frame as it had been observed that unnecessary delays escalated the cost of the projects which caused huge losses to the government exchequer. The committee further recommended that the ministry may avoid initiating new projects before the completion of ongoing projects to ensure the proper utilisation of funds.

The committee members expressed reservation over the water data shared by different govt agencies and said that the situation about water availability is not clear and they requested the committee to convene separate meeting on the issue.

MNAs Muhammad Tufail, Lt Col (R) Ghulam Rasul Sahi, Pir Aslam Bodla, Rao Muhammad Ajmal, Abdul Sattar Bachani, Nawab Muhammad Yousuf Talpur, Salim Rehman, Syed Waseem Hussain, Moulana Gohar Shah and Abdul Qahar Khan Wadan attended the meeting, besides officials of the ministry.