Pak Affairs

Diamer Basha dam to be inaugurated next month: NA told

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Water and Power Raja Pervaiz Ashraf on Friday informed the lower house of Parliament that the construction work on Diamer Basha dam would be inaugurated by the Prime Minister next month adding that land acquisition process has been initiated.

In response to various questions raised by parliamentarians in question hour, he said the government was vigorously pursuing the harnessing of water resources to improve the water availability in the country. He said the designs and tender documents of Diamer Basha dam have been completed and Asian Development Bank (ADB) has promised to finance the project.

The minister said that a comprehensive plan to construct a number of small dams in the country had also been launched to provide irrigation facilities to areas outside the command if Indus system. He said Rs1.249 billion had been incurred on the planning and investigation of Kalabagh dam so far, adding that instead of initiating work on controversial projects and wasting huge money the government is working on non controversial projects.

In response to another question, the minister said the power shortfall in July, August and September 2010 was recorded as 3257 MW, 3409 MW and 3297 MW respectively.

Ashraf said the main cause of load shedding is devastation caused by floods adding that in many areas the flood water washed away the grid stations, transmission lines and transformers. However, he said efforts are underway to improve the situation.

He further said that there is huge gap between installed capacity and power generation. He said Pakistan raised objections on the design features and spillway structure of Kishenganga hydroelectric plant. But India did not cooperate in resolving the issue bilaterally, therefore the government has instituted the proceedings for resolving the dispute by court of arbitration as provided under the Indus Water Treaty, he added.

To another question he said the project to distribute two energy savers to every household in exchange of incandescent bulbs is under submission for approval of the government. He said a consultant has been hired to formulate the proposal and mechanism for launching of the project, adding that the cost of the project is $ 85 million.

To another question he said that 6,300 villages were electrified under village electrification project initiated in 1993-94 with the assistance of Japan.

While Sindh Irrigation Minister, Provincial Secretary Irrigation, DCO Sukkur including two Army officials were summoned over their inability to record their statements at a probe commission regarding breaches in the Tori embankment.

The commission to probe breaches in the Tori embankment as well as other dykes comprised Justice Ghulam Nabi Soomro (retd) and Justice Zahid Qurban Alvi. They regretted that the officials did not join the probe to record their statements before the commission.

The commission members took notice of the attitude of the Irrigation Minister Sindh Jam Saifulllah Dharejo, Secretary Irrigation Sindh, DCO Sukkur Inamullah Dharejo and two Army officials Brigadier Amanat and Brigadier Tarique in Karachi. Two Provincial Ministers, Agha Taimore Pathan and Mir Abid Khan Jatoi, contacted the committee by phone to record their statements, however, they were directed to join the commission in person on October 11 in Karachi.

President Growers Association Sukkur Kamaluddin Jatoi, Muhammed Akram Bhayo and Khawind Ali Bhayo, in their statement, accused the irrigation officials for the breach in the Tori embankment. While briefly talking to reporters, the commission members said that within three weeks a report will be submitted to the Sindh government in this regard.-SANA

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Mubashar Nizam

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