ISLAMABAD: It is unlikely that the contamination of Mancher Lake would come under control in next three years as the government once again quite surprisingly rejected the PC-I of the Right Bank Out-fall Drain (RBOD-I), saying that it is useless to complete the Project before the completion of RBOD-II.

The country biggest fresh water lake cannot be revived till the completion of RBOD project and the financial constraints is the main hurdle in its construction, an official source told The Nation here. There is no chance of the completion of work on the RBOD-II before three years.

In the CDWP meeting, held last week, the Planning Commission has rejected the PC-I for RBOD-I and linked its approval with the completion of RBOD-II. About 90 percent work on RBOD-I has already been completed but the project is still waiting for the approval of its PC-I from the Planning Commission. RBOD-I project was approved in 1994 and original cost was Rs 4395 million but was revised to Rs17505.018 million. In the absence of ROBD-II the final disposal point for effluent of RBOD-I is the Manchar Lake and it has become an environmental disaster. Continuous supply of poisonous and salty water to the lake for decades has reduced the fish production and consequently compelled nearly 40,000 fishermen to migrate from the area.

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 moto proceedings regarding the growing level of contamination in Manchar Lak and the deprivation of the livelihood of fishermen. There are three phases of the RBOD, they are; the RBOD-III starts from Balochistan to Miro Khan Zero Point, RBOD-I from Miro Khanto Sehwan and RBOD-II is under construction from Sehwan to sea. The project after completion will provide the facility to carry out the drainage effluent of Sindh and Balochistan Provinces from Karampur to sea at Gharo Creek and will also help to end the pollution of Manchar Lake.

The construction of RBOD had been undertaken by the following agencies: RBOD-I project for priority works was being executed by Wapda. RBOD-II was being executed by Sindh Irrigation Department. RBOD III project was being executed by Wapda. The effluent of RBOD-III and RBOD-I would be carried by RBOD-II up to the sea, in order to save Manchar from pollution the sea, it was essential to complete RBOD-II in all respects before completion of RBOD-I and RBOD-III. To begin with, the whole project is ill planned, why it was started from the middle, RBOD-I, and why no one questioned it back in 1994, the year the project was conceived? Why there was no accountability of those officials responsible for the ill planned project? the source questioned.

The timely completion of RBOD is productive for Sindh as it would save 4.32 million acres from water-logging and salinity hazards. It is also beneficial for the federal government as after its completion, the maintenance of the project will be the responsibility of the provincial government. Due to delay in the completion of RBOD-I, both the federal government and the Sindh government will suffer financial losses, the source maintained. Besides, its construction cost gone up by manifold, during the past twenty one year, the Sindh government has to pay Rs 8 billion Interest During Construction (IDC) on RBOD-I, the source informed.

The project requires quick completion and hand over to Sindh government as wear and tear and accumulation of silt have already been started on RBOD-I and it is feared that the Sindh government will refuse to take over the project in such a miserable condition, the source maintained .The cleaning and repairing will require another Rs 4 billion and the federal government has to pay this amount from its own kitty, the source informed. The RBOD-II was approved with the cost of Rs14 billion and launched on November 20, 2001.

But due to delay in release of funds, the progress was slow; thus it could not be completed within four years as scheduled. In June 2006, the design discharge capacity of the drain was increased from 2,271 cusecs to 3,525 cusecs in the revised PC and the depth and width of the drain were set at 20 feet and 105 feet respectively. According to the Sindh Irrigation Department, the actual price of RBOD-II was Rs29 billion but due to delay it has risen up to Rs43 billion.