ISLAMABAD: After deferring the ceremony from Jan 2 to 13th, the government has postponed the groundbreaking ceremony of Mohmand Dam for the second time in this month.
The ceremony scheduled to be held on Sunday was supposed to be attended by Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief Justice Saqib Nisar as chief guests.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Information Minister Shaukat Yousafzai confirmed that the ceremony today had been postponed. Whereas, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Media Iftikhar Durrani, on the other hand, said a new date would be announced after consultation with Justice Nisar, who would join the ceremony.
As controversies mar the hydro-power project, this is second time its inauguration has been delayed. Last time, it was delayed owing to a controversy regarding the award of the contract of the hydropower project to a consortium led by Descon, a company owned by PM’s aide Abdul Razzak Dawood.
However, Durrani ruled out any controversy in the regard. He said the tender for the project was awarded in the PML-N government’s tenure and the incumbent government had no role in the matter.
The decision to postpone the ceremony had not gone well with the CJP either, who had expressed displeasure over the postponement and had refused to attend the event.
“You changed the date without informing us and did not even think it was appropriate to tell the top judge. The government does not even have the courtesy to ask the chief justice regarding changing the date, now I might not go to the groundbreaking ceremony,” the top judge had remarked.
“The prime minister saw his schedule and changed the date, he did not see that we also have work. Now tell the prime minister to go inaugurate Mohmand Dam himself,” he added.
The CJP aside, the opposition parties had also taken the government to the task for awarding the project to Dawood’s company. They had called upon the government to revoke the contract.
Furthermore, the PPP had also asked the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to probe the contract for the construction, saying the FWO-led consortium’s “technical bid was found not to be qualified. Thus the single bid was accepted and the contract was awarded to the consortium which included Descon”.
The process raises the questions over the transparency of the project, thus it should be probed, the petition filed by the PPP had pleaded.
In response, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry and Water Resources Minister Faisal Vawda defended the contract.
Fawad had said criticising the government’s decision to award the contract of Mohmand Dam to Descon was causing losses to the country. “Razak Dawood has no links with Descon consortium,” he had said.
“Those demanding cancellation of the contract are hatching conspiracies. Such elements want to halt the country’s progress by making dams controversial,” Vawda had said.
The work on the hydropower project would start by April 2019.
Mohmand Dam is a proposed multi-purpose concrete-faced rock-filled dam located on the Swat River approximately 37 km north of Peshawar and 5 km upstream of Munda Headworks in Mohmand District, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Once completed, the dam is expected to generate 740 MW of hydroelectricity, irrigate 15,100 acres of land and control floods downstream. It is expected to provide numerous estimated annual benefits including Rs. 4.98 billion in annual water storage benefits, Rs. 19.6 billion in power generation benefits by generating 2.4 billion units of electricity annually and Rs 79 million in annual flood mitigation benefit.