KP to expedite Chashma
By Tahir Ali
Pakhtunkhwa has prepared a strategy to manage an early
implementation of the vital Chashma right bank canal
lift-cum-gravity scheme, official sources said.
“The province will request the federal government to release
funds for the project as promised by Prime Minister Yousaf
Raza Gilani and other federal dignitaries on numerous
occasions. It will also seek donors’ support for financing
the project. If these initiatives fail, the provincial
government would allocate funds from its own resources to
initiate the project,” an official quoted the chief minister
having told a meeting on the project recently.
“The provincial government had initially entered into an
agreement with the World Bank to finance the project. As the
implementation of the agreement has been delayed, KP intends
to approach other donors,” the official added.
Perhaps owing to a perceived law and order situation, no
foreign donor agency or foreign government is ready to
invest in the province, though the security situation is not
serious particularly in the area where the project is
Will the cash-starved province ever be able to apportion the
hefty amount from its own resources in case both these
initiatives backfired? the official was asked.
“Yes, considering the significance of the CRBC project for
the agriculture economy of the province, KP Chief Minister
Amir Haider Khan Hoti is determined to start the project at
the earliest, he said. The project, according to him, can
help bring a green revolution in the province.
“He recently told a meeting that he would personally look
into the matter, would ensure its approval from the
Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec)
and ask the Federal Government to fulfill its commitments on
this count,” the official quoted.
“Otherwise, Mr Hoti has decided to utilise the net hydro
profit of Rs110 billion the Water and Power Development
Authority owes to the province for the purpose. Initially,
the amount was to be spent on power generation schemes but
of late, it has been decided to invest it also in irrigation
schemes,” he said.
“The cost of the project is escalating with every passing
day. It was Rs25 billion in 2006 when the project was first
made part of the year’s federal government’s public sector
development programme. In 2009-10 it rose to Rs61bn. And
according to the latest estimates, it is around Rs77bn,” he
“Any further delay will make it even costlier besides
inflicting huge losses on the provincial economy as it
remains deprived of its benefits.”
The project was first approved in 2005-06 but since then it
has been delayed for one reason or the other. First, the
central development working party delayed its approval. Now
final decision on the project is awaited by the Ecnec.
Initially its approval was
promised for the entire project but later only CRBC lift-1
was approved, leaving out the other two lifts.
The project was included in the PSDP in 2005 and subsequent
years but funds were not released. Later the federal
government promised the project would be approved as a non-PSDP
Last fiscal year, the federal government had asked the
province to give just one mega project to be included in the
PSDP and the KP had decided on the CRBC project and Rs400
million was set aside for the project.
The CRBC at present irrigates around 0.3 million acres in
Dera Ismael Khan alone. Through the proposed CRBC lift
scheme, to be completed within three years, irrigation water
from a feeder canal of Chashma barrage will be pumped into
the main canal by a 64 feet lift.
If completed in its present shape, the project would
irrigate another 0.28 million acres in Dera Ismael Khan and
other districts that remain unutilised for want of
The project was initially planned to irrigate over one
million acres in its entire three phases.
Despite having enormous water potential, the province has
been unable to fully exploit it for paucity of funds, lack
of foreign funding and of physical infrastructure.
KP and Federally-Administered Tribal Area have an area of 25
million acres. Out of this 6.7 million acres are cultivable
but irrigated land is only 2.27ma while 4.4ma of land has no
water for irrigation.
KP was allotted 8.78 million acres feet (MAF) of water in
the Water Apportionment Accord of 1991. Despite the physical
infrastructure for around 7.7MAF, only 5.5MAF of water is
available to the province. It means 3.28MAF water of its
share flows to Punjab or Sindh. This is why the CRBC or
other canals and small and big dams are urgently needed.
The KP government had claimed Rs83 billion for the water of
its share being used by Sindh and Punjab during discussions
for the last National Finance Commission Award.