ISLAMABAD - The country’s corruption watchdog, National Accountability Bureau (NAB), and Prime Minister Secretariat are reluctant to take action against WAPDA for allegedly causing over Rs 7 billion loss to the national exchequer in the award of contract of a mega project in Neelum-Jehlum Hydropower Project, TheNation has learnt reliably.According to the rough estimate of the Transparency International Pakistan (TIP), the award of Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs) Project in Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Project by Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) involved corruption of US $74 million as kickbacks and PPRA rules were violated in this regard.TIP recently in a letter addressed to the Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Ayub Qazi has pointed out anomalies in the award of contract of Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs) charging WAPDA with severe allegations of corruption. The copies of the letter addressed as ‘Loss of Rs 7 billion in the Award of TBM in Neelum Jehlum Hydropower Project’ and written on November 17, 2012, to the Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf were also forwarded to NAB, Managing Director Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA), Chairman WAPDA, Chairman Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and other offices concerned.However, a source in the bureau said that NAB authorities were silent on the issue and reluctant to take action against the officials of WAPDA involved in the mega corruption scandal for the reasons unknown. Similarly, the letter is gathering dust in the files in the PM Secretariat awaiting action since November 17.The TIP in its letter written to Prime Minister has said that the contract had been awarded on December 19, 2007 to joint venture of Chinese firm China Gezhouba Group of Companies (CGGC) and the China Machinery Engineering Company (CMEC), at a cost of Rs 90.94 billion, in contravention to the approved Rs 84.5 billion cost for the project.The letter further says that due to the delays, the cost of the project has ballooned from 84.5 billion to a staggering Rs 274.8 billion. The hefty cost associated with the project may result in an exorbitant power generation cost of over Rs 10 per unit, against the existing hydroelectric generation cost of 16 paisa per unit.The international corruption watchdog further says that the burden of the costs arising out of delays and inefficiency is also expected to be transferred to consumers, as the government has decided to arrange 40 per cent of the required funds through a levy on consumed energy imposed by the Government of Pakistan. At present, consumers are paying 10 paisa per unit surcharge, which amounts to Rs6 billion per year. TIP has raised objection that international consultant never recommended the use of the tunnel boring machines for the Neelum Jehlum Hydropower Project at any stage.That the Chinese company has refused to operate the high tech tunnel boring machines unless the insurance cover of $15 million is arranged by WAPDA, as they have refused to accept the responsibility of performance of the TBMs. In addition to that, no insurance company is ready to insurance the two TBMs as these were not procured in accordance with PPRA Rules. “That due to the corruption and incompetence of WAPDA, cost of project has now increased by four times from Rs.84.0 billion (as per first PC-I) to Rs 321.0 billion in 2012,” says the letter of TIP. TIP has revealed that WAPDA in connivance with M/s NESPAK who are official consultants of the Project, (WAPDA Chairman is a Director of National engineering Services of Pakistan -NESPAK), awarded the negotiated contract to M/S Herrenknecht Germany at a cost of US$ 184 million. The letter concluded that the cost of the boring machines was not more than US $ 110 million, and US $ 74 millions have been taken as kickbacks.TIP had reminded in its correspondence that irregularity surfaced after the Ministry of Water and Power submitted a revised draft of the project’s PC-1, approved on December 12, 1989, at a cost of Rs 15.23 billion, revised on February 28, 2002 to Rs 84.5 billion to Rs 274.8 billion in 2012.