In a shocking development, the country's most important project - Dasu hydropower project's stage -1 with the capacity to generate 2160 MW hydel electricity - has got delayed by three years, and the cost overrun cost is feared to have gone up by Rs100 billion. The project earlier scheduled to come on stream in 2023-24 is now to be completed and commissioned in 2026-27, a top Wapda official told The News.
'The failure in land acquisition, Covid pandemic, and the terrorist attack on a bus carrying Chinese officials at the site of the project have caused the delay for three years.' The Water and Resources Ministry also confirmed the development saying the project has been delayed by three years. 'The water and resources ministry and Wapda will soon submit to the Planning Commission the revised PC-1 of the project for cost overruns for approval by CDWP and ECNEC,' he said.
'The project was approved in 2014 with a cost of Rs586 billion. The World Bank has also provided funding, which is equal to 20 per cent of the total cost. Now under the new scenario, the cost overrun during three years is feared to increase by Rs100 billion. This will cause an increase in the cost of the project to almost Rs686 billion.'
More importantly, he said, an unfortunate terrorist attack took place on July 14, 2021, on a bus of Chinese Contractor staff resulting in several causalities and injuries caused a complete suspension of work for almost four months. After the concrete efforts of Wapda and GoP, M/s CGGC (Main Work Contractor) resumed the work on October 25, 2021. This delay has badly impacted the construction schedule as the major milestone of River Diversion which was earlier scheduled in Nov-Dec 2021 slipped to Dec-2022 causing a one-year delay. Overall physical progress achieved is 12%.
To this effect, Wapda hydroelectric company has sought an extension in COD (commercial operation date) for three years till 2026-27 from National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) in its petition with the regulator, according to an official document available with The News.
Furthermore, the land for the dam and reservoir portion has not yet been fully acquired. Since the land comes under the unsettled area and revenue department has so far failed to spot the owners of the land. Such land is owned by the tribes. So land acquisition has become an uphill task, which is why the pace of work on the project remained slow due to the land acquisition issues which is the sole responsibility of the provincial government of KPK and the district administration of Kohistan Upper to acquire land and hand it over to Wapda for implementation of the project as per Land Acquisition Act 1894. The resolution of land acquisition issues in 2019 took considerable time and effort, which resulted in the delay of the project for almost three years.
Almost 85% of the land required for the project has been acquired till now including the priority areas required for main civil works. The remaining land falls in the reservoir area which does not affect the pace of the project. 'A sizable portion of KKH will also be merged with the project, which is why the design of the project also needs to be altered.'
According to the official details, overall preparatory works are almost 50 per cent complete which include Project Colony, access infrastructure and a dedicated 132 Ky Dubair-Dasu transmission line. The Main Civil Works Contract was awarded to M/S China Gezhouba Group Company (CGGC) and work on Dasu HPP Stage-I commenced on June 23, 2017, which is expected to be completed by June 2023. The electro-mechanical (E and M) contract was awarded to M/s Power China-General Electronics JV in Feb 2021 with expected completion in March 2026.
The pace of work on main civil works remained slow initially however, after the resolution of some of the land acquisition issues in 2019, work on the project was going on smoothly and gaining momentum amid the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak until July 14, 2021, when an unfortunate terrorist attack took place on a bus of Chinese Contractor staff resulting in several causalities and injuries which caused a complete suspension of work for the next almost four months.
After concrete efforts of Wapda and GoP, M/s CGGC (Main Work Contractor) resumed the halted work on October 25, 2021, albeit in a phased manner and is expected to get fully mobilized during the first half of 2022.