Thursday, June 2, 2011

200mgd water from Indus River planned for twin cities

The Council of Common Interest (CCI) is in the process of arranging 200 million gallon water per day (mgd) from Indus River for the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad.

In this regard it directed the ministry of water and power to hold talks with the provinces especially Sindh to seek their consent for drawing the water.

“The council urged the ministry of water and power to form a committee to determine share of water to be ceded by them for the two cities,” CDA Member Planning Tahir Shamshad said.

He expressed the hope that the issue would be resolved soon as almost all provincial governments had agreed to give required water from their share determined under Indus Water Treaty.

Interestingly, the plan to draw water from River Indus under Rs47 billion Ghazi Barotha Water Supply Project (GBWSP) was conceived several years ago but the CDA heads usually expedite their efforts to launch the project on the advent of every summer during which water shortage in the two cities aggravates and the number of water shortage complaints, only in Islamabad, go up to 1,200 to 1,500 in a day.

The CCI did not discuss the financial aspect of the project but the focus was how to get 200 mgd from the river with the consent of all the provinces.

“The project was sent to the Planning Commission in 2009 which gave no objection on the cost of the project because it realised that this is the only option to meet acute water shortage in Islamabad and Rawalpindi,” the official said.

As provinces agreed to water sharing, the government will definitely provide funds for the project, the official added.

Chinese and Korean firms have shown interest in the project and offered the CDA that they would bear entire cost of the project but then the water will be supplied to the citizens on their own rates. “The CDA rejected all such proposals because providing water to the citizens is a constitution binding on the civic body,” member planning said.

Last year inter-provincial coordination committee had taken the responsibility to convince all provinces not to oppose drawing of water from Indus River under the project.

The committee could not give the desired results, although it was convinced that Islamabad is the city where people belonging to all parts of the country have been residing, therefore provinces should no have any object on release of some 200mgd.

When the project was first conceived the financial condition of the CDA was better and thus it had decided to execute the project through its own resources and not under the government`s funds.

In this connection the civic body contacted the World Bank a loan but the bank turned down the CDA`s request.

Later, Korean Water Resource Corporation (KWRC) and the CDA signed a MoU under which the firm pledged to invest $300 million in the project. The corporation had also agreed to lay water supply line from Tarbela Dam to Islamabad and Rawalpindi on Build-Own-Operate-Transfer (BOOT) basis.