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Sunday, November 26, 2023

World Bank says Tarbela 4 completed within record time & cost, govt says it was slowed down: Lt Gen Muzammil

Lt Gen (R) Muzammil Hussain says he worked day in and day out to mitigate Pakistan's water crisis by pushing construction of dams in record time but he is now being blamed for corruption in Tarbela 4th extension project which was in fact lauded by the World Bank.

Former Chairman Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) Lt General (R) Muzammil Hussain has announced fighting National Accountability Bureau (NAB) cases against him. He also said that he will not leave Pakistan. NAB is investigating allegations against Lt Gen Muzammil of misuse of authority and $753 million worth of corruption in the Tarbela extension project. The allegations include the slow pace of the projects and payments to the favourite contractors in mega power projects over the last three years. NAB was informed that due to delays, the per megawatt cost of the Tarbela-4 mega project rose to the highest level.

However, Lt Gen (R) Muzammil said that the allegations against him are baseless. While talking to the ARY News, he explained that the Tarbela-4 extension project was completed within record time and with 10 per cent less than the estimated cost; he said that this was remarked in the World Bank Report as the project was funded by the WB.

He says Pakistan is facing a food security crisis due to water mismanagement; he worked hard to mitigate the issue by commissioning different hydel projects while he was Chairman of WAPDA. Over the last 5 decades, no major dams were built which turned Pakistan into a water-scarce country. He says political disagreements lead to such cases.

What is the Tarbela Fourth Hydropower Project?

The objective of the Tarbela Fourth Extension Hydropower Project (T4HP) is to add 1,410 Megawatt (MW) of renewable and low-cost electricity to Tarbela Dam’s generation capacity during the high-demand summer season. The project has installed a power plant of 1,410 MW on the fourth tunnel at Tarbela Dam.

What does World Bank say?

According to the WB report, “Construction works under T4HP were completed on time and met the target generation of 1,500 GWhs in 2018.”

“The project was financed with a US$400 million IBRD loan and a US$324.93 million equivalent IDA concessional credit in March 2012. WAPDA financing was assumed as US$74 million equivalent, less than 10% of the project cost.”

NAB summons General

On June 6th, NAB summoned Lt Gen Muzammil to furnish “complete details of the funding process adopted, contract evaluation, PC-I and subsequent revisions in PC-I, administrative approvals and technical sanctions from the competent authority.”

It also sought “completion certificates verified by the competent authority and complete details of the installation/commencement of the said project.” The complaint is at the ‘complaint verification stage’ currently.

Read more: WAPDA Chairman resigns from post

Lt Gen Muzammil resigned from his office last month for personal reasons. He said his team commissioned “several hydropower projects that were earlier subject to complications and delays, including Neelum-Jhelum, Kachhi Canal, Tarbela fourth extension and Golen Gol” during the last five years.

On Aug 24, 2016, prime minister Nawaz Sharif appointed Gen Hussain as Wapda chairman, replacing Zafar Mehmood. His contract expired in 2021, but the PTI government reappointed him – the first reappointment in the history of Wapda.

In April, during his visit to the Diamer-Bhasha Dam site, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif directed the Wapda chief to ensure the completion of this vital project in 2026, ahead of its timeline of 2029.

The PM told Gen Hussain at the briefing that “Nothing in this world is impossible therefore efforts to complete the Diamer-Bhasha dam project by 2026 instead of 2029 should be made.”

In response, chairman Wapda said that it would not be possible considering the fact that the project is already facing many challenges, the security of Chinese engineers being one of them.

Read more: NAB summons ex-Wapda chairman over misuse of funds