Imran breaks ground for Mohmand Dam


–PM lashes out at previous govts for ignoring important issues such as water shortage

–Says provinces would give 3pc NFC share for development of tribal districts

–Ex-CJP Nisar says did not do anyone a favour by spearheading dams initiative


ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday performed the long-awaited groundbreaking of the Mohmand Dam at a ceremony held in Mohmand district in presence of former chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice (r) Mian Saqib Nisar, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa and senior ministers.

Addressing the ceremony, Federal Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda thanked the premier for instilling confidence in his team and for encouraging them to work harder. He also thanked the ex-CJP, the army chief and Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) chairman for efforts towards the cause. He lashed out at the previous government for ignoring important issues such as building schools, hospitals and dams.

He said that although only the preliminary works had been started, they received an Rs18 billion discount on the project for the first time. He said that the government has created 27,000-28,000 jobs in the dams project and the recruitments will begin soon.

“For the first time, a minister will provide jobs to the people in his constituency from his own pocket and from his friends’ pockets,” adding that 200-400 jobs would be provided before the 10th of Ramzan to ensure implementation of premier’s poverty alleviation vision.

PM Imran started his speech with a reference to Vawda’s speech, saying that while he delivered a fiery speech, he forgot about the dam and moved on to other topics. At this point, Vawda looked uncomfortable but the premier soon added that “he spoke from his heart”.

The prime minister said that the country’s largest dams Tarbela and Mangla were built during the 60s when the economy was rapidly growing. He lamented that over time the economy started collapsing because of the vested interests of those in power and the country accumulated huge debts.

He said that the previous governments were focused on staying in power so they concentrated on projects which could be completed within their tenure. “Dams are not built and in five years and this is why the previous government ignored them,” he said. He also said that although Field Marshal Ayub Khan was a military dictator, he deserves applause for focusing on long-term development.

He said that the country will be developed on the style of China which has always made long term development planning. He said, “China progressed because their leaders do not care about winning elections and they plan 20 years ahead.” He also said that previous leaders ignored Balochistan the tribal areas because they knew they could not get enough votes from there.

He also commended the former chief justice on doing a good job in creating awareness for the cause and for collecting donations for the implementation. “This was not his job but he still did it. The matter should have been raised by the country’s prime minister at the time,” he said.

He announced that no NRO will be given to the corrupt elements, adding that the government will punish the corrupt and ensure that national resources are spent on public welfare.

Imran Khan said all the provinces will give three per cent of their share in National Finance Commission (NFC) for development of the tribal people during the next 10 years.

He announced that Rs4.5 billion will be spent on the development of Mohmand district alone. The prime minister said peace and tranquillity in Afghanistan will help in the promotion of trade which will greatly benefit the tribal people.

The prime minister also said that peace has been restored in the country due to the sacrifices of the security forces and tribal people. He added that confidence of entrepreneurs has now been restored and they are coming for investment in the country which will also help solve the unemployment problem in the country.

Earlier, addressing the ceremony, ex-CJP Nisar thanked the nation for generously contributing to the cause, emphasising that water is essential to a nation’s survival. He said that the Supreme Court (SC) did not do anyone a favour by imitating the dam fund. He expressed hope that looking at the way people have worked for the cause, the dam would be completed within the stipulated time and budget.

COAS Bajwa, Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, Federal Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Dr Noorul Haq Qadri, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Shah Farman and Chief Minister Mahmood Khan were also present on the occasion.

The Mohmand Dam is being constructed on the Swat River and it will be completed at a cost of Rs183 billion by 2024. The dam has the capacity to store 1.2 million acre-feet of water. Upon completion, it will generate some 800MW of electricity.

The much-delayed project is likely to be completed before flood season of 2024 as work has already been commenced and the contractor has mobilized heavy machinery to the dam site.

As per the PC-1, the project cost was initially approved at Rs309 billion. However, Rs18 billion cost has been reduced through negotiation with the contractor, bringing it down to Rs 291 billion. According to an official, the local people have already transferred 844 acres of land for the project.

The government would provide 37 per cent fund for the project while remaining fund would be arranged by WAPDA. The project aims at helping mitigate the risk of floods in Peshawar, Charsadda and Mardan.

The official said that the evaluation of technical bids had resulted in the reduction of cost of the project by Rs18bn, which included the omission of duplicate works and deduction of the price from errors in the tender documents etc.

The official said building a large dam is a serious construction work as more than one million cubic feet of concrete is required. This is why the cost is high too as compared to other infrastructure development works, the official said. The execution of the project has been delayed for about five decades due to various reasons.