Minister raises alarm over redundancy of Darawat Dam

HYDERABAD, Oct 15 (APP):Federal Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda Monday raised alarm over redundancy
of the water storage reservoir in Jamshoro district, the Darawat dam, blaming the Sindh government
for the prevailing situation.
Talking to the media during a visit to the dam in Jamshoro, the minister said the center had spent around Rs11 billion to complete the dam, but the Sindh government was not contributing its share of Rs1.25 billion.
“The Sindh government was supposed to develop the command area by constructing the water courses and carrying out leveling of the land,” he told.
Vawda bemoaned that due to the provincial government’s delay the project which was supposed to irrigate 25,000 acres of land from the water stored in the dam could not reap fruition for last four years.
According to him, around half of the 25,000 acres land in the command area was disputed land for which he held Sindh Government responsible.
The minister warned that if the provincial government did not expedite the project component which was its responsibility the federal government would take over the dam.
“We will consider completing remaining component of the project through public-private partnership,” he informed.
According to him, 2 more options were also under consideration which include making the dam an amusement place or supplying its water to Karachi.
He said the dam’s construction was completed in August 2014, and for the following 3 years the Chinese company Sino Hydro, which constructed the dam, was responsible for its operation.
In August, 2017, the Chinese company handed over the dam to Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) even though it was supposed to be handed over to the Sindh Government, he added.
“The Sindh government refused to take over the dam citing the excuse that it lacked the capacity to run it owing to which WAPDA took over the dam,” he said.
The minister also raised the issue of water theft allegedly by the tanker mafia from Hub canal in Karachi and warned the Sindh Government that the federal government would take action if the later failed to stop that theft.
He told that he would take up the matter in his upcoming meetings with Corps Commander Karachi, Director General Sindh Rangers, IG Sindh police and Karachi police chief to stop the crime.
“I would also write to the Chief Justice of Pakistan to take notice of the issue,” he added.
According to him, the water from Hub dam which was supposed to be supplied to the people of Karachi through pipelines was being stolen by the tanker mafia.
“The theft creates water shortage in Karachi on the one hand and on other hand the people in need of water are sold expensive water by the mafia,” he added.
Vawda blamed the Sindh Government for doing injustice to the citizens of Karachi in its responsibility of ensuring fair water distribution.
The minister, however, appreciated Sindh Local Government Minister Saeed Ghani who reportedly assured him that the latter would support the former’s initiatives to curb the water theft.
“The Water Board [Karachi Water and Sewerage Board] is criminally involved in this theft,” he alleged.
The minister apprised that a fraud had also surfaced in Rs26 billion Nai Gaj dam project in Dadu district in which the contractor submitted Rs2 billion fake bank guarantee to the government.
“We are going to refer that case to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB),” he told, adding that the dam’s construction cost stood revised.
The minister said the federal government wanted to provide more water to Sindh but he emphasized on the need of curbing water theft in the irrigation system.
“The rich feudal lords steal water from the share of the tail end poor farmers,” he observed.
Responding to a question about K-IV water project, which would supply water from Indus river to Karachi, Vawda said the Sindh Government was yet to submit PC-1 of the project to the federal government for approval.
When asked to state whether the federal Govt was ensuring implementation on the 1991 Water Accord, the minister said if the water theft was being done in head areas of the waterways how could the water reach to the tail.
Earlier, while briefing the media General Manager South Naeem Arif informed that the dam’s catchment area was spread over 3,400 square kilometers while its command area was around 25,000 acres.
He informed that the dam’s storage capacity was 121,000 acre feet but the highest level of storage which had been achieved so far was 52,000 acre feet.
The dam’s spillway was above 112.5 meter above the mean sea level while its dead level was 106 meters, he added.
According to him, the dam’s water had been used to cultivate crops only one time in last
four years when more than 3,000 acres were irrigated from the dam’s water.
The officials of WAPDA and Water Resources ministry accompanied the minister on the occasion.