Pakistan wastes water worth Rs25b every year: Wapda chairman

ISLAMABAD - Wapda Chairman Lt-Gen (r) Muzamil Hussain, during a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee on Wednesday, revealed that Pakistan wastes water worth Rs25 billion every year.

Muzamil Hussain, while briefing the committee, said though Pakistan receives 145 million acre feet of water every year, yet only 14m acre feet of water is preserved.

The chairman said that due to soil gathering at the base of Tarbela Dam the storage capacity of the dam has decreased by 36 per cent. Therefore, constructing Diamer-Bhasha dam is necessary, he added.

Hussain regretted that only two dams had been built in the country over the past 70 years.

An independent Chinese consultant hired by Wapda to conduct a feasibility study on desilting of the Tarbela Dam claimed that desiltation of the dam is not a viable option either economically or technically, and may damage the country’s largest power house and reservoir.

The official said the feasibility study concluded that instead of undertaking such a mammoth exercise it would be more economical to build a new dam of the same size and capacity.

Hussain revealed that all of Wapda projects had incurred a total of Rs300b in debt. Annually, about Rs40bn is repaid, of which Rs5 billion consists of loans, while Rs35 billion comprises annual interest payments, Hussain said. Total annual payments come to about Rs57bn when the project cost is added to this amount, the chairman told the committee.

Rs152b was paid last year, he said, which was separate from the total debt cost.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) was informed that circular debt had touched Rs321 billion mark owing to increase in production of electricity in the tenure of current government.

The committee, chaired by Syed Khursheed Shah, sought details of circular debt in connection with electricity production in the current government’s tenure. The committee was reviewing the audit objections of Wapda for year 2015-16 and 2016-17.

About line losses, the committee was informed that districts of Sindh, including Hyderabad and Sukkur, were at top in line losses throughout the country. Total of 37 per cent line losses were recorded.

The committee was briefed about transmission and distribution losses of various power distribution companies. The chairman PAC asked the authorities concerned to give more attention to the areas of high losses.

The chairman also reprimanded Wapda chairman for not attending the meeting of PAC the other day (Tuesday). “PAC is a big forum but you didn’t give value to it,” said PAC chairman while expressing displeasure with the chairman Wapda.

The chairman Wapda said that he could not attend this meeting due to his busy schedule the other day. “I normally attend meetings of PAC. My ministry staff with all documents attended the meeting,” he replied.

The committee chairman, during the meeting, also ignored the demands of ruling party PAC members on ‘technical briefing’ on construction of Kalabagh Dam. “The government is already in hot water, so I think, there is no need to open another Pandora’s box,” he argued over the demand of ‘technical briefing’ on the construction of Kalabagh Dam from Wapda officials.

About Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Project, the Wapda chairman said that 969MW Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Project would start full generation by March 31, 2018.

He also shared technicalities about the Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Project. He said excavation of 68 kilometer tunnels had already been completed one month ahead of its schedule completion.

The Wapda chairman said average annual water inflow in the river was recorded as 145 MAF but only 14 MAF water could be stored.

It was also informed that the country has only two major water reservoirs as no reservoir was built during last four decades.

The Wapda chairman said that Rs57 billion had been spent on Kicchi Canal project and Rs45 billion more was required for completion of its first phase. This canal would start irrigating 72,000 acres of Dera Bugti land by the December, he added.

The meeting was participated by MNAs Sheikh Rashid Ahmad, Rana Muhammad Afzal, Muhammad Junaid Anwar Chaudhary, Mian Abdul Manan, Arshad Khan Laghari, Sheikh Rohail Asghar, Shahida Akhtar Ali, Azra Fazal, Khalid Maqbool, Naveed Qamar, Muhammad Pervaiz Malik, Sardar Ashiq Hussain Gopan and others.

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