ISLAMABAD-Work on the construction of Mohmand Dam will be delayed for eight months as some under-construction part of the dam was washed away by the flood water.
While briefing the Senate Standing Committee on Planning, Development and Special Initiatives on detailed review of foreign aid received by Pakistan for flood relief activities, an official of the Planning Ministry said that the floods in Pakistan have caused losses of $32 billion, and the country need $16 billion immediately. Meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Planning was held here with Senator Atta ur Rehman in the chair.
The committee was informed that World Bank will give a loan of $1 billion for the rehabilitation of the flood affectees of Sindh and this money will be spent on the rehabilitation of houses and infrastructure. The rehabilitation of houses and infrastructure in Sindh required Rs1500b. “Are there any reservations from the IMF on flood damage estimates?” Senator Hidayatullah asked the Planning Ministry official. This is not the case, said the official of the ministry and added that the flood damages estimates had been prepared with the support of international organizations including World Bank, Asian Development Bank, European Union and United Nations.
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The Committee was informed that development partners had extended financial and in-kind foreign assistance to Pakistan for flood relief activities that include grants and loans. The Committee while reviewing the details of the received foreign aid stressed the need for a transparent and cogent system for the delivery of assistance to flood victims. The Committee was informed that the Benazir Income Support Programme was being used for the disbursement of aid to flood victims. A post assessment report has been completed and will be used as an outline for the rehabilitation plan that will be shared with the Cabinet for approval.
The pen down strike of the technical and economist cadre of the Planning Commission echoed in the planning committee meeting. Senator Hidayatullah said that “We did not get the agenda on time”. Official of the Planning Ministry said that the technical and economist wing of the Ministry of Planning is on strike, so it took time to prepare and deliver the documents on time to the committee. These officers are demanding Executive Allowance, the official said. The committee asked that when the officers of Planning are not working for three or four weeks, how is the work going on? Senator Ejaz Ahmad Chaudry said that this is a very serious matter as the development of Pakistan depends on the Planning Ministry. Official of the Planning Ministry said that these are only the officers of the technical and economist group, while the rest of the ministry’s officers are working. The officers of technical and economist cadre of the Planning Commission are on pen down strike against discriminative government policy of granting 150pc Executive Allowance to the officers of administrative cadre while it is being denied to technical, economist, foreign services, information and all the other cadres. The activities of the Planning Commission are at standstill due to pen down strike of the technical and economist cadres from the last few weeks. Even meetings of the Central Development Working Party (CDWP) are taking place without the input from the technical and economist wings of the Planning Commission.
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Deliberating over the damages caused by the floods to Mohmand Dam, the Committee was informed by the Project Director of the Dam that due to flooding, sliding occurred in both tunnels of the dam in Mohmand Dam. The under-construction part of the dam was washed away by the flood water, said the Project Director. Due to floods, the construction of the dam will be delayed by eight months, he added.
The committee was informed that Prime Minister had ordered an inquiry to find out the cause of the damage to the Mohmand Dam. A five-member inquiry committee consisting of domestic and foreign experts had been constituted to probe the matter. The inquiry committee had visited the dam and soon a report will be submitted to the Prime Minister. It was further informed that once completed the dam will be able to regulate floods mitigating the risk of flooding in low lying areas in Charsadda, Peshawar, Nowshera districts. While briefing the Committee on amendments in PPRA rules to ensure maximum transparency and efficiency, the Committee was informed that PPRA has been continually trying to remove all unnecessary hurdles in the way of development projects. The Committee was further informed that the standard of awarding a contract to the lowest bidder has been changed and now the standard is the most advantageous bidder. The Committee in general and Senator Saadia Abbasi in particular stressed the need for doing away with PPRA rules, for what we need quality projects instead of low cost projects. The Committee unanimously agreed to the proposal of Senator Saadia Abbasi and recommended that a meeting with the Prime Minister should be arranged so that further transparency and improvements are introduced in awarding contracts for various development projects. The committee recommended that the problems of the merged districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa should also be taken up in the meeting with the PM.
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