Islamabad - Award of contract of Mohmand Dam Project to Descon once again echoed in a parliamentary committee when senators from Balochistan questioned company’s qualification for such a big project.

The senator questioned why a company which was disqualified for a small dam project in Balochistan was awarded contract of a big project worth Rs 309b by the federal government.

In the meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Planning, senators from Balochistan also demanded that the amount collected for the construction of Diamir Bhasha and Mohamand Dam should be transferred to Balochistan for construction of small dams in province.

Senators from Balochistan further demanded increase in number of small and medium dams to be constructed in the province from 100 to 500.

“With this amount of Rs7 or 8 billion, collected under fund-raising drive, you cannot make big dam, however it can help construct enough small and medium sized dams in Balochistan,” said Senator Usman Kakar during the meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Planning, Developments and Reforms. Usman Kakar was backed by almost all the senators from Balochistan in his demand.

“Descon was nominated for construction of big dam which means it was capable of constructing other dams too. Why it was disqualified for construction of small dam in Balochistan,” questioned Senator Ahmad Khan. “I want to know the reason that why Descon was disqualified for a small project of worth Rs10 billion,” he added. Garuk Dam is located in Kharan and its cost is only Rs10 billion. However the officials of government of Balochistan said that Descon was not disqualified because it was a joint venture of NLC and Descon and the later was disqualified because of former. Under PPRA rule if one company in joint venture is disqualified it means both will considered disqualified. Since the case is sub-judice therefore cannot be discussed in public, he added. 

The Senate Standing Committee on Planning that met with Senator Agha Shahzaib Durrani in chair referred the inquiry report of Ministry of Planning regarding desalination plant in Gwadar to National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for further inquiry. The report was prepared by the planning ministry on recommendation of the Senate committee.

The meeting was informed that the ministry had dispatched a team comprising high officials to Gwadar to personally witness the current status of desalination plant and to inquire the concerned stakeholders responsible for building and maintaining the plant. The report said the plant was totally shut down and not filtering a single drop of water. Senator Kauda Babar said billions of rupees were spent on the project but due to negligence of authorities concerned, the plant could not got functional. He said the local people had to spend thousands of rupees daily for purchasing water from tankers for their daily use.

Construction of 100 small dams in Balochistan consists of five packages.

In the first package(2008-2013) 20 dams had already been completed at a cost of Rs2.4 billion, while in the second package (2013-18), 22 out of 26 dams had been completed at a cost of Rs4.4 billion whereas in the third package 20 more dams are scheduled to be completed by 2020 at a cost of Rs7.6 billion. In the fourth and fifth packages, 23 and 11 dams would be built by 2026.

The meeting was further informed that total area of 66 dams of three packages was 2,154 million acres whereas total storage capacity of these dams was around 2,467 million acre feet.

The committee recommended that planning ministry should increase the number of small dams in Balochistan from current 100 dams to 500.

Senator Mir Kabeer said, “Forget about the agriculture in Balochistan, we don’t have water for drinking. There used to be 309 Karaizes in Balochistan but now only one is operational.” “In the last five years, CPEC failed to resolve the water crises in Balochistan,” he claimed. He said that solution of Balochsitan water crisis lies in construction of small and medium sized dams.

Agha Shahzaib Durrani said Balochistan neither had canal system nor underground resources of water, therefore, number of small dams across the province must be increased.”

The committee also recommended the ministry of planning to immediately release the required Rs1,200 million for building the remaining small dams of the 100 small dams project.