Non-availability of funds delayed Nai Gaj Dam, SC told

ISLAMABAD - The Sindh government on Thursday informed the Supreme Court that it was willing to undertake its obligations regarding construction of Nai Gaj Dam. However, the execution of the project has been delayed and halted purely on account of funds withheld by the federal government.

“Such fact has been admitted by the government before the Apex court,” stated a reply of Sindh government in the case pertaining to dam construction. The reply is submitted by the advocate general Sindh before a bench comprising three-judge headed by Justice Sheikh who heard the case. The reply stated that the provincial government has never objected to construction of dam project nor it has caused any impediment or delay.

“It is on record that the entire project is to be funded by the federal government exclusively whereas the Sindh government is only responsible for land acquisition, resettlement,” it said.

To this extent, there is no delay on part of the government of Sindh and in fact for purpose of fulfilling these obligations, the amount of Rs 1899 million as proposed by Wapda in even the second revised PC1, stands streamlined with provision in ADP and allocation of Rs 188 million during 2018-19, which shall be provided as and when required for the project, the reply stated.

Sindh govt says it’s only responsible for land acquisition, resettlement

It is further submitted that this court has time and again expressed its displeasure on account of such delay caused by the federal government. The government including the ministry of water and power as well as the ministry of planning has repeatedly reassured and undertaken before the apex court to provide the requisite funds for execution of the project.

The top court in its November 30, 2018 order had observed that all the parties unanimously agree on the expeditious completion of the project. It was further specifically recorded in the order, regarding the release of funds for completion of the dam which the federal government has promised and which is their duty, we have been apprised by a Wapda representative that an amount of Rs 5 billion was released and subsequently Rs 11 billion were released against the total required amount of Rs 46 billion.

In pursuance of the said orders, once again a second revised PC1 was prepared by Wapda. The second PC1 although mentions the enhanced cost of the project to approximately at Rs 47 billion from the previous cost of Rs 26 billion.

However, the reply further contended that the liability of the Sindh government even in the second revised PC1 remains limited to Rs 1899 million whereas the remaining costs are to be borne completely by the federal govet.

It further contended that notwithstanding the aforementioned constant and unambiguous stance of the federal government duly recorded and observed by this court time and again, the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC) deferred its decision on the project based on an altogether new stance.

A bare perusal of the ECNEC’s January 25 decision reveals that the same has been issued not only in complete ignorance of the original PC1, revised PC1 and even second revised PC1 submitted by Wapda but also in absolute disregard of the commitments made by the federal government before the apex Court, the reply stated.

“It appears that the decision is taken on account of a principle/policy that projects benefitting a single province should be financed through the provinces own mums. What is rather remarkable is that neither the policy has been quoted nor produced before this court.” “In fact most of the projects benefitting single province executed by Wapda are fully financed by the federal government and not on the cost-sharing basis by that province.”  Some of the examples of such projects include Gomalzam and Kurramtangi dams in KPK, Mirani and Sabakzai dams in Balochistan, Satpara Dam in Gilgit-Baltistan and other likewise projects, the reply further stated.

In addition to the aforementioned projects, there are other ongoing projects benefitting a single province alone which are exclusively financed by the federal government. The reply further submitted that there is no such policy issued by NEC (which is the constitutional body mandated under Article 156 of the Constitution) or even ECNEC for that matter.

“Even otherwise ECNEC being a subcommittee of the constitutional body cannot take action in absence of any policy or decision taken by NEC itself.” “Such a decision or policy would require deliberations amongst all the stakeholders of NEC as the same would have far reaching consequence, therefore it falls beyond the scope and competence of the ECNEC.”

It is submitted the Sindh government is ready to perform its part of the obligation under the project towards the construction of the Nai Gaj Dam as agreed in terms of original PC1, revised PC1 and even second revised PC1. The reply prayed that the federal government may be directed to fulfil its commitments and obligations.

The bench adjourned the hearing of the case till after Eid while directing all the parties to appear on the next date of hearing.

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