ISLAMABAD - Despite the payment of Rs2 billion by the federal government in 2014, the executor of the Naulong dam has yet to start work on the project, it is learnt reliably here on Sunday.

“Naulong dam project was approved by the CDWP and ECNEC in 2012 and the planning ministry has released an amount of Rs2 billion, to the executor of the project, but so far no construction work was started on the project,” official source told The Nation. Now the Ministry of Planning Development and Reforms has allowed them to utilise the Rs829 million for the Kacchi canal project and the remaining amount is still lying there, the official maintained.

“I think Wapda is facing the capacity problem that’s why they are delaying the important projects which increases the cost of these projects,” the official commented. Naulong Dam, a medium size reservoir, is proposed to be constructed across Mula River in District Jhal Magsi of Balochistan. The project, with a water storage capacity of nearly 250,000 acre feet, will irrigate 47,000 acres of land. Some 4,300 employment opportunities will be generated during the construction, operation and maintenance of the project. Benefits of the project have been calculated more than Rs2 billion per annum. Jhal Magsi is a huge plain sharing Magsi tribesmen between Sindh and Balochistan with minimum sources of water available to the local residents. The project was approved by the CDWP with the cost of Rs18 billion in 2012 during the PPP government.

Balochistan is water starved region of Pakistan and instead of making more and more water reservoirs the concerned departments are creating hurdles in the execution of already approved projects, official maintained. The water section of the Ministry of Planning and Development seems to be unconcerned with the delay of the dam. Previously, the Mohammad dam was delayed and now Nai Gaj and Naulong dam is being delayed mainly due to the lethargy of the Ministry of planning.

Although the provincial politicians are supporting the construction of small delay action dams but the experts, associated with the provincial irrigation department, are opposing the construction of delay action dam as it proved to be a complete failure and have negligible impact on the recharge of subsoil water in the province, these official maintained. “The government should focus on medium size dams and instead of constructing too many delay action dam they should construct normal size reservoirs,” the official said. Medium size water reservoirs should be built in all parts of Balochistan where more than 20 million acres of highly fertile land is available for cultivation but due to lack of water is laying barren.

It is pertinent to mention here that in 2012 it was claimed by Wapda that following the award of contracts by the Wapda for Nai Gaj and Naulong dams, the contractors have been mobilised to the sites to start construction work on the projects. But in reality, no developmental work was started on the project during past six years.

When contacted for an official version, the Wapda’s spokesperson said that the first Revised PC-I of the project amounting to Rs18,027.091 million was approved by ECNEC on August 16, 2012. The 2nd Revised PC-I of the project was submitted to Ministry of Water and Power on August 31, 2015 and discussed in CDWP meeting held on January 14, 2016 wherein it was decided that “The concept of the project was cleared and sponsors were directed to approach EAD for exploring avenues of financing for the project. However, Wapda may also explore financing arrangements for the project outside PSDP.” Accordingly, Ministry of Water and Power approached EAD for arrangement of foreign funding for the project. Asian Development Bank (ADB) showed interest for financing the project and desired fresh procurement of the works as per ADB guidelines.

The spokesperson said that the construction of Naulang Dam project will be commenced as soon as funds/loan is approved by ADB and 2nd Revised PC-I of the project is approved by the ECNEC.