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Committee set up to scale down Nai Gaj dam cost

ISLAMABAD: The federal and Sindh governments on Thursday disagreed on shared financing of the Rs46.5 billion Nai Gaj dam but formed a committee to further scale down its estimated cost.

A meeting of the Central Development Working Party (CDWP) constituted a committee comprising senior representatives of the government of Sindh and the federal ministries of planning and water resources to further rationalise the cost of the Nai Gaj dam and submit a report within three days. Federal Minister for Planning Khusro Bakhtyar presided over the meeting.

The forum had returned the dam project to the relevant agencies with the instructions to address technical issues, rationalise estimated cost and ensure a road map for its financing and get back for clearance within a week.

CDWP refers the Rs17.5bn Punjab police project to Ecnec for approval

Officials said the project cost was reduced from Rs47.73bn to Rs46.5bn but the CDWP was not satisfied with it. A representative of the Sindh government told the meeting that his province was already facing reduced fiscal flows from the centre than budgeted and would not take additional burden.

The meeting noted that the estimated cost was still on the higher side and required further rationalisation. The committee should come back with another cost revision and the matter of its financing would be taken up at an appropriate level.

The federal government has taken the stance that since the Nai Gaj Dam would overcome water shortages and irrigate an area of 28,000 acres in Sindh, its financing should be jointly met by the provincial and the federal governments. Because of fiscal constraints, the federal government alone could not bear the entire cost of a project of purely provincial nature.

An official statement said the meeting formally referred the $986 million Emergency Plan for Polio Eradication to the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) for approval after removal of certain observations.

The meeting also recommended for Ecnec approval the Rs17.520bn Punjab police integrated command, control and communication project.

Officials said the CDWP meeting on January 3 had agreed in principle to refer the polio eradication project to Ecnec with certain conditions, including an identifiable and traceable execution plan and the update on the achievements of the project so far. The relevant agencies had submitted a report that led to clearance of the project.

The official statement quoted the planning minister as saying that polio eradication was a national priority so a fast monitoring mechanism should be made to ensure its smooth implementation. He instructed the federal and the provincial governments to work closely to eradicate the core reservoirs where sewerage water was contaminated with poliovirus.

The project for improvement of Punjab police involved an integrated command and control centre envisaging modernisation of infrastructure system and capabilities of police to proactively manage the security situation and to professionalise the response to incidents by moving towards mission-focused deployment of resources.

Under the current financial powers, the CDWP can itself approve projects costing no more than Rs3bn while the projects of higher costs are approved by Ecnec on technical grounds.

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