After Kachhi Canal, Naulang Dam is danger

Published on – November 6, 2017 – 7:00 am

QUETTA: The corrupt and dishonest elements in the Federal Bureaucracy had destroyed the Kachhi Canal project by willfully escalating the cost of the project to an unprecedented level forcing the Government to shelve the second and third phase of the Canal.

QUETTA: The corrupt and dishonest elements in the Federal Bureaucracy had destroyed the Kachhi Canal project by willfully escalating the cost of the project to an unprecedented level forcing the Government to shelve the second and third phase of the Canal.

The Kachhi Canal was stopped in the Bugti Mainland or completion of the first which will irrigate 72,000 acres of land around Sui Plains.According to the original plan, the Kachhi Canal was supposed to irrigate o.7 million acres of land in the Kachhi Plain.

Initially, the total cost of the project estimated at Rs 50 billion. The Project was approved in 2002 and was supposed to complete in four years.

However, the project was willfully delayed by the bureaucracy showing deep contempt towards the mega projects of Balochistan ordered by General Pervez Musharrafand thus its cost escalated manifold and the first phase cost Rs 80 billion, Rs 30 billion more than the proposed total cost of the project.

The former Prime Minister of Pakistan confirmed massive corruption in the Kachhi Canal Project and ordered action against the corrupt officials and contractors and others involved in it.

The corrupt elements in the project tried to hand over the project to the Government with defective and sub-standard and low quality construction. Their attempt failed and the officials were given order to improve the quality of construction which caused delay for another year to improve the quality of construction.

Now the phase two and three are shelved and there is no more allocation of funds to complete the entire Kachhi Canal Project and bring more than 0.7 million acres of command area under cultivation. The remaining 640,000 acres of land will remain barren till infinity.

It is the decision of the Central Government to deny development in Balochistan. According to independent economists, more than Rs 100 billion will be needed to building the remaining portion of canal. Under the present financial crunch, the Central Government will not spare resources for development schemes, including the incomplete scheme of Kachhi Canal.

It was the deepest shock to the people and mainly for those who could have been the possible beneficiaries. The Provincial Government played safely and made no attempt to annoy the powerful rulers of Pakistan at the Centre or the Pakistani Establishment.

There is all quiet on the Balochistan front and the Central Government and Pakistani Establishment were visibly satisfied with the obedient behaviour of the Provincial rulers.

Now there is turn of Naulang Dam also irrigating a vast land in the Kachhi Plains in areas close to Jhal Magsi, the hometown of the Magsi Chiefs. The Project was prepared and approved during the last PPP Government and its cost was estimated to be around Rs 11 billion.

This project was also delayed willfully by the powerful bureaucracy for eight long years allowing the cost to escalate from Rs 11 billion to Rs 26 billion. During the eight long years, the stubborn bureaucracy did not start the basic work on the Naulang Dam which is considered an expression of contempt toward Balochistan and its people.

During the proceedings of the Public Accounts Committee meeting, the former Federal Secretary and WAPDA chief confirmed that Rs 2 billion of the project were kept in a private bank instead of the National Bank of Pakistan as per Federal Government order. He offered a clumsy explanation before the Public Accounts Committee meeting which the members rejected firmly and ordered an investigation into it.

Why the construction work on Naulang Dam had not started in years? There was no explanation. When the work will start? There was no answer. It is delayed for an indefinite period as most of the Central Government projects in Balochistan took decades and not years. The Bolan Medical College Complex took 34 years to complete.

A youth hostel with a cost of mere Rs 80 million took eight long years to complete. RCD Highway is under construction for more than 60 years.

It is interesting to mention that RCD Highway was part of the great Marshal Plan for reconstruction following the World War II. The road was supposed to connect capitals of Pakistan, Iran and Turkey through a highway of international standard. The road is in complete shambles taking lives of dozens of people in a year.

The most prestigious project is Gwadar Port which is under construction for the past 15 years or more. After completing three Berths, the work was stopped. After 15 long years, the Government installed three cranes.

Pervez Musharraf announced construction of Coastal Highway, Gwadar international Airport and connecting the port with the coastal highway bypassing the Gwadar settlement and a power house. All these projects were announced before the newsmen on the occasion of ground breaking ceremony of Gwadar Port.

The Coast Highway is complete and extended to the Iranian border. To this date, work on most of the projects yet to start.

The main issue is water supply for the local residents first and later for the other projects. They are all delayed for the past 15 years. Some two years ago, a budget allocation was made at the Federal level to buy land for railway yard of the Gwadar Port. After two long years, the process started to acquire private for the project.

There is no urgency in the Government circles to build Gwadar Port and operate it allowing foreign countries to trade with landlocked countries of Central Asia, including Afghanistan. According to independent economists, the project can earn six billion US dollars yearly from the transit trade facility.