The construction of the Mohmand dam is dubious at the moment because of the growing concern regarding the selection of contractors for the job. Two consortiums - one comprising of Descon, China Gezhouba, and Voith Hydro, and the other comprising of the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO), Andritz Hydro and Power China - applied for the task. However, on technical grounds, the latter was disqualified and the former was the only bidding party in the financial bid. This has resulted in several raising questions regarding the transparency of the matter because the consortium selected for the financial bid includes a company owned by the Prime Minister’s Adviser on Commerce and Industry Razzaq Daud.

While the Chairman of Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) retired Lt Gen Muzamil Hussain claims that no illegality was committed during decisionmaking, several want the government to highlight the technical grounds on which the consortium was rejected and also include other bidders in the process to ensure equal competition. The government now has to be answerable to the questions being raised. In order to establish the transparency of the process, the selection criteria for the technical bid should be made known along with a clarification of why more firms are not being contacted to ensure that no one is favoured in the process. The government is also yet to go over the financial bid of the selected consortium to see whether or not they will be approved for the job, however, the statement of Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry regarding Descon being the largest firm in Pakistan hints towards their selection. If the selected consortium is the best for the task, the solution to the current scenario is to keep the process transparent.

The construction of the Mohmand dam is of the utmost importance because of the severity of the water crisis in the country. Pakistan over the years did not develop its water reservoirs and many are now facing its impact. Post-1967 after the construction of the Tarbela dam, no government took measures to improve the country’s water situation. We have seen in the recent past how our neighbour India took advantage of this lack of prioritisation from the Pakistani side. To avoid any further damage, it is necessary to build dams. The process needs to be initiated without any further delay.