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March 31, 2016

Kachhi Canal project remains pipedream for last 10 years


March 31, 2016

LAHORE: The mega Kachhi Canal project, which envisaged irrigation to thousands of acres of Balochistan’s parched lands, may not be finished by this yearend as the work on one of its key parts has come to standstill after a legal wrangling, sources said on Wednesday.  

On March 25, the court issued a stay order against the fresh bidding process, which aimed at completing the project at the earliest after the termination of the contract of one of the main contractors over allegation of very slow progress. 

The government targeted to complete the Phase-I of the project by December 2016 to make the canal operational for 102,000 acres of land. The project steering committee, during its meeting held on October 09, 2015 and March 15 emphasised for the early completion of the project to create harmony among the people of relatively underdeveloped Balochistan. 

In February, the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) invited fresh tenders for completing the remaining works of the contract KC-5, Section-A, which were scheduled to be opened on March 28.

The Wapda is implementing the Kachhi canal project as a fast track project under its Vision - 2025 programme to accelerate the pace of economic growth. 

The default contractor of one of the main components of Kachhi Canal sought intervention of the court in this regard and blamed faulty design of the project for the delay.

According to the stay order, the appellant showed willingness to negotiate the matter with the respondent department for further progress of the project. 

The court asked the appellant to avail remedy of negotiation with Wapda till April 14, 2016. The court said public money is involved in execution of the project and it has been lingering on for the last 10 years. The negotiation, which was not opposed by the respondent, should be availed before the formal initiation of legal proceedings of the case, it said.

The sources, however, said no contact has been made by the appellant with respondent department till yet for negotiating the hiccups.

The respondent alleged that the progress by default contractor remained very slow. Several notices of slow progress were served to the contractor to enhance the pace of work but the contractor failed to do so. Ultimately, keeping in view the very slow progress and insufficient deployment of resources, the employment of the contractor was terminated as per the contractual provisions on December 1, 2015.

The Kachhi Canal project comprises construction of around 500-kilometre long lined main canal; of which 300km lies in Punjab and 200km is in Balochistan. 

The ground breaking ceremony of the project was performed in October 2002 at Tausa Barrage – the offtake point of Kachhi canal. The project is said to bring green revolution in Balochistan by providing irrigation water for 713,000 acres of land and drinking water facility to around two million people.

The project is scheduled to be completed in three phases (phase-I, 102,000 acres in district Dera Bugti; phase-II, 267,000 acres in district Bolan and Naseerabad and phase-III, 344,000 acres in district Bolan, Naseerabad and Jhal Magsi). 

The work on phase-I of the project is being implemented through eight contracts. All the contracts have been awarded to the national and international contractors through transparent bidding process. 

The contracts, KC-01, KC-02, KC-03 and KC-04A, have been completed. Contracts KC-04, KC-05, KC-06A and KC-6C are in progress. The contract KC-05, the default contractor, was assigned work of Section-A (RD 531 to 616 and RD 849 to 856) with completion date as June 30, 2013. However, despite giving several revised deadlines, its completion is still a pipedream.

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