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February 16, 2017

Only one-fourth of PSDP budget for water and power projects released

National

February 16, 2017

Allocation for water sector is much lower than demand;
Cost of Khachi Canal to go up from Rs57 bn to Rs80 bn

ISLAMABAD: The government in first eight months of outgoing fiscal has released only a fourth of total budget earmarked for the country’s power sector in the Public Sector Development Program (PSDP) 2016/17.

A top official of the of Ministry of Water and Power while briefing the National Assembly Standing Committee on Water and Power said that out of the total amount of Rs216 billion allocated for 173 projects in current PSDP for the water and power sectors, only 25 to 30 percent of proposed funds were been released during.

MNA Muhammad Arshad Khan Leghari presided over the meeting. Official of the ministry briefed the committee about the budgetary proposals relating to PSDP for financial year 2017-18. The Committee endorsed all the budgetary proposals of departments/DisCos and directed to complete their on-going projects on top priority basis.

Interestingly, the committee was informed that the budgetary allocation for water sector is too little and has been reduced by more than a half. Earlier, its outlay was used to be Rs70 billion but has been reduced to Rs30 billion. “Our demand for the water sector during the coming PSDP is Rs150 billion,” official informed. It was also informed that there is proposal of increasing the cost of Khachi Canal from Rs57 billion to Rs80 billion.

The Committee was of the view that due to delay in completion of the projects, its cost increased which resulting in huge loss to the government exchequer. The committee also asked for the accountability of those contractors who are causing the delay.

The Committee was informed that Rs231 billion has also been demanded for 180 projects for the financial year 2017-18. The Committee decided to approach Finance and Planning Divisions for allocation of proposed funds of the Ministry.

The official of the Ministry of Water and Power said that in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), there are four water schemes with the total cost of Rs46 billion and the province has demanded Rs127 billion for new schemes. Balochistan has demanded Rs19 billion for three ongoing projects and proposed 18 new schemes worth Rs91.8 billion.

Chief Engineer Irrigation Sindh said that they had plans for six projects relating to rainwater harvesting and therefore they need land for these projects. He said that Sindh needs Rs91 billion for new projects but their demand was to allocate Rs74 billion in the next financial year. “We have demanded the renovation/rehabilitation of Sukkur Barrage, in 2004, however no step has been taken so far,” he complained. He warned that Sukkur Barrage would be useless in next ten years if it was not rehabilitated. Chief Engineer Irrigation demanded Rs16 billion for Sukkur Barrage project which would prolong its life for next forty years.

He said that the irrigation system in Punjab and Sindh is outdated which causes water losses. Beside the evaporation losses, Sindh is higher than other provinces, he maintained. Chief engineer demanded release of funds for the Nara Canal. He said that the province has proposed 12 new projects. He further informed that river is the main fresh water source of Mancher Lake, as it receives fresh water in flooding season; however, that link has now ended.

Earlier Abid Sher Ali, state minister for water and power, briefed the Committee about the detail of the projects included in the forthcoming PSDP for the year 2017-18. He said that provinces should also bear the responsibility and asked to bring matching grant to resolve the issues of funds.

He said that PML-N government had provided funding for RLNG based power plants and Diamer Basha dam project and said that it would play its role to fulfill the responsibility of federal government. He admitted that Pakistan faces water losses and there was no storage of water. He said that those should be held responsible involved in delay of the projects and should be given punishment. The committee members proposed to bring bill in this regard and policy should be formulated.

MNAs Muhammad Junaid Anwaar Chaudhary, Malik Ihtebar Khan, Lt Col (R) Ghulam Rasul Sahi, Sardar Mansab Ali Dogar, Rana Afzaal Hussain, Rana Muhammad Ishaq Khan, Pir Muhammad Aslam Bodla, Nawab Muhammad Yousuf Talpur, Malik Ghulam Rabbani Khar, Junaid Akbar, Syed Waseem Hussain, Maulana Muhammad Gohar Shah, Dr Syed Ghazi Ghulab Jamal, and Sahibzada Muhammad Yaqub attended the meeting.