The cost of Naj Gaj Dam in Sindh has increased by almost 275 percent, in a span of just seven years, it was learnt reliably here on Monday.

WAPDA has demanded Rs 19 billion for the dam during the current fiscal year (FY) and Rs 20 billion during the FY 2016-17 for the same purpose, according to the second revised PC-I, available with The Nation.

The CDWP, in its previous meeting, had also not approved the project.

Naj Gaj Dam is being constructed across Naj Gaj river, about 65 kilometers from Dadu. On completion, the dam will have the capacity to store 0.3 million acre feet of rainwater and irrigate 28,000 acres of barren land in KN Shah and Johi talukas of Dadu district.

WAPDA is the executing agency of the project.

Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC), in 2009, had approved its completion at the cost of Rs 16924.51; but the project was not completed at the approved cost.

The ECNEC again approved the first revised PC-I, but cost of the project went up to Rs 26236.02 million. When the project could not be completed within the stipulated time; the cost shot up to Rs 46555.29 million.

The main objectives of the dam include irrigation of agricultural land, protection of lower riparian, hydro-power generation, flood mitigation and development of fisheries.

According to the sponsor, reasons for the increased cost chiefly are the order of the Supreme Court and fresh water supply to Mancher Lake through a pipeline from the dam.

The pipeline was not part of the original plan, and its inclusion added to the project cost.

Similarly, change in the scope of work, spillway design review, deletion and re-inclusion of items like access roads and power house are some other reasons for the cost enhancement.

“Similarly discrepancies in the design, prepared by the previous consultants, also contributed to the cost going up,” the document revealed.

However, the Planning Commission (PC) has raised several questions over discrepancies in the project.

The sponsor was asked to confirm that as per advertisement/RFP, the contractor was required to arrange finances for the project, but the finances were never arranged.

The sponsor may also justify the execution of variation orders without prior approval from the competent authority.

The sponsors may explain what punitive actions have taken by them against violations of the PPRA rules, and if no action has been taken, what were the reasons for that.

According to the PC-I, the project is coupled with RBOD master plan in the sense that it will provide 50 cusecs of water for the water balance in Manchar Lake. The sponsoring agency was asked by the Planning Commission to explain what measures had been taken in this regard, given that it was a time bound exercise.

The commission further said that numerous design modifications were needed just because of faulty work by previous consultants. What punitive action has been taken against the consultant?

The dam falls in the category of large dams; however, despite huge investment, the storage capacity is mere 0.160 MAF.

The PC has also questioned the idea behind such huge investment for a relatively small storage reservoir.

Similarly it has also sought the reason for including an auxiliary spillway in the dam. The spillway, which was not part of the original PC-I, has been included in the design, apart from the main spillway.

The PC has also questioned the logic behind the WAPDA’s demand for huge amounts.

According to the commission, the completion period of the project is June, 2017, while WAPDA has demanded Rs 19 billion during the current FY; whereas the allocated budget is Rs 2,000 million, and Rs 22 billion for the next FY 2016-17.

In these circumstances, PC says it seems impossible to arrange such huge amounts for both years.

The commission asks WAPDA as to how these financial arrangements will be materialised?

The perusal of cost table speaks about normal increase in the on-going activities related to project and the inclusion of additional items.

This needs a drastic reduction in the cost estimates.