Govt requests third extension for Dasu Dam deadline

LAHORE: The government has requested the World Bank for extending the 2,160 MW Dasu Dam deadline for the third time to utilise credit allocated for land acquisition and resettlement by one further year till November 20, 2018, highly placed sources revealed.

Sources showed a request letter of dated November 15, 2017, which states government acceptance of Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) inability to finalise land acquisition and resettlement for Dasu Dam since the approval of loan in 2014.

The letter also mentions that WAPDA could not meet the second deadline of December 2016 and another deadline until November 20, 2018, would be needed to finalise the land acquisition. It mentions that land acquisition had been slower than expected which was supposed to be started before the approval of the loan on Jun 10, 2014. However, only on December 1, 2016, was an agreement reached on the land compensation rate and acquisition could start in earnest.

Since then 614 acres, of the 2,056 acres required for the construction footprint of the project, have been acquired. The land acquisition pace has been slow due to inadequate coordination between WAPDA, the KP Government and the Dasu District Administration. Although the pace has improved lately, land acquisition progress has negatively affected project timelines, the letter said.

Sources told Pakistan Today that the safeguards for involuntary settlement were therefore recently downgraded and WAPDA has been advised to put more focus on this component in the implementation activities.

They said that procurement of key contracts had also been marked slow mainly due to the cancellation of previously awarded contracts. Procurement performance was, therefore downgraded in April 2017. Besides finalising the large contracts for the main civil works, two major preparatory works previously held up in court (KKH-02 and RAR-02) have been awarded. Only two procurement processes are still held up but are currently being solved through assistance from the ministry.

Once these contracts awarded, the letter hoped, it is anticipated that the performance will be upgraded to satisfactory levels. Financial management issues have created delays in implementation mainly due to provincial tax not being accepted in invoices from contractors, lack of coordination with Dasu District office for land acquisition, including the use of customised software for record keeping, and not using an online system for withdrawal applications.

Financial management performance has also been downgraded in April 2017. The tax issues have been resolved and coordination with the District Office has improved, although further efficiency is needed going forward in kicking starts the project.

The letter also mentions that the land acquisition and resettlement process now has the highest priority of WAPDA. As advised by the Bank’s team, the letter added, “They are now working towards better coordination with the Dasu District Office and the KP Government.” The letter pointed to the last mission met with the Senior Member Revenue Board (SMBR) in KP Government, together with WAPDA staff. The SMBR decided to support the allocation of additional staff for the Dasu District Administration. WAPDA will now ensure to bring the new staff on board to reduce the time for revenue surveys, award, and payment to landowners.

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