ISLAMABAD - The federal and Sindh governments are still at odds as the province has refused to pay its share of Rs14 billion for the Right Bank Outfall Drain (RBOD-II) project.
The RBOD projects are aimed at draining the effluent water from Balochistan and Sindh in the Arabian Sea, to protect contamination of Manchar Lake.
The federal government will invite the Sindh government to resolve the issue of the RBOD’s flood protection funding in the light of the Supreme Court directives, sources told The Nation here on Sunday.
“Now after the Supreme Court directives both the federal and the provincial governments have less than one month’s time to resolve the issue, and soon the issue will be raised with the province, the official added.
In a meeting last month attended by secretaries finance, water and power, law and planning, the chief secretary Sindh has agreed that the province will pay its share of Rs14 billion for flood protection of the RBOD-II project.
It is feared that if the RBOD-II project is not completed on time, the flora and fauna of Manchar Lake will completely be wiped out.
The Supreme Court has already initiated suo motu proceedings regarding the growing level of contamination in Manchar Lake and the deprivation of the livelihood of the fishermen.
Beside, the timely completion of RBOD is productive for Sindh as it would save 4.32 million acres of land from water-logging and salinity.
Last week the Supreme Court, in a suo motu case concerning Manchar lake contamination due to effluents from the RBOD, has directed the federal and provincial governments “to interact on the issue of completing the RBOD project to protect Manchar Lake from contamination, warning that the court could summon the prime minister and the chief minister if the issue was not resolved.”
The revised cost of the RBOD-II projects was approved by the CDWP and referred it to the ECNEC for approval.
The federal government has agreed to divert Rs3 billion to the RBOD-II during the current financial year as the project cost has gone up by more than 100 per cent to Rs61.985 billion.
The completion deadline of the RBOD-I, II and III projects was also increased for the fourth time and will be simultaneously completed by 2019.
A committee was constituted, in October 2016, under member Infrastructure Planning on RBOD projects.
The committee has further constituted a technical subcommittee to make recommendation for the early completion of the RBOD’s projects.
Currently there are three projects in the implementation stage for carrying Balochistan and Sindh disposal into sea.
The first leg of the project is RBOD-III, which will carry Balochistan and Sindh effluent disposal.
The project is located in Nasirabad, Jaffarabad districts of Balochistan and Kambar, Shahdad Kot districts of Sindh.
The project was initiated in 2003 and missed several completion deadlines, however now the government has fixed 2019 a new date of completion.
The second leg is RBOD-I located in Nara desert, district Ghotki and Sukkur, Sindh, which will be used for the disposal of effluent from the Right Bank Sukkur and Guddu Barrage commands area in Sindh.
The project was initiated in 1994 and missed several completion deadlines, however now the government has fixed 2019 a new date of completion.
Similarly, RBOD-II drain will be connected to RBOD-I at Sehwan and will carry the effluent direct to sea at Gharo.
The project of 273-kilometre long RBOD-II was initiated in 2001 and the estimated cost of Rs14 billion, the project was supposed to be completed in 2006 however it was delayed.
To carry Balochistan’s waste water, RBOD-II capacity was revised to 3,525 cusec from 2,271 cusec.
The estimated cost was also upward revised to Rs29 billion in 2005 and the completion target was extended to 2008 and then 2014.
Now once again the cost was upward revised to Rs61.985 billion and the completion target was transferred to 2019.
It is pertinent to mention here that in the 2nd revised PC-I, the Sindh government had estimated the cost to be Rs64.66 billion but the Planning Commission asked for cost rationalisation.
After necessary modification and amendments, the RBOD-II project cost was revised to Rs61.985 billion.
The RBOD-II project is located in Jamshoro and Thatta districts of Sindh and is being considered vital for rehabilitation of, Asia’s largest fresh water lake, Manchar which receives contaminated water of the RBOD-I.
As per the new schedule provided by the technical subcommittee, during the next three years, Rs3,000 million are required for RBOD-I, Rs4,000 million for RBOD-III and Rs19,713 million for RBOD-II.
During current fiscal year Rs5,000 million will be spend on the RBOD-II against the PSDP allocation of Rs2,000 million.
Similarly as per schedule Rs1,800 million are required for the RBOD-I and III during the current fiscal year against the PSDP allocation of Rs2,800 million.
An additional Rs3,000 million funds will be required for RBOD-II to achieve the target of the current fiscal year.
It was therefore recommended that Rs1,000 million could be transferred to the project from RBOD-I and III, and the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms will arrange the remaining Rs2,000 million through re-appropriation from other projects during the current fiscal.
The sub-committee also recommended that the government of Sindh may also make timely releases of Rs14 billion required for completion of flood protection works as part of RBOD-II project to ensure that work done on the project with the federal government funding is not affected during the flood season.
The Sindh government made a commitment, however just before Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC) meeting, it has backed out from paying Rs14 billion and therefore the approval of the RBOD project was deferred.
The federal government insists that after the devolution of power to provinces, it was Sindh’s responsibility to fund the flood protection part of the project.
Earlier the allocation for the flood protection was Rs3 billion, however Sindh government has increased the amount to Rs14 billion, the official said.
This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 20-Mar-2017 here.