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Special Report:
Flood Crisis

1
 

 
Repaired canals unlikely to sustain floods

Flood Crisis Home

By Habib Khan Ghori

KARACHI, September 05, 2011: Chairman of the Monitoring Committee on Rehabilitation Works on Canals and Dykes Dr Ahmad Ali Shah on Sunday expressed apprehension about right bank canals’ capacity to sustain floodwater when it would be released into the system because of what he called unsatisfactory repairs carried out since last year floods.
The eight-member committee was constituted by Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah on a directive of President Asif Ali Zardari in December last year to monitor progress and quality of restoration works of dykes and canals, to ascertain transparency in award of contracts and to ensure that specifications given in the contracts were carried out according to the laid down procedures and requirements.

In response to a question, Dr Shah, a PPP MPA from Naushero Feroze, told Dawn that the authorities concerned did not provide details of the repairs to the monitoring committee and the works carried out remained unexamined.

 

He said initially water had not been released into the canals system on the pretext of water shortage but the authorities might find an excuse for the damages the weak system cannot sustain with a sudden release of floodwater into the system following the recent rains.

“We had already informed the chief minister about the non-cooperation of the authorities,” he said, trying to absolve the committee of its responsibility about the quality of work.Replying to another query, he said that officials who had not been appointed on a merit basis paid little attention to directions of lawmakers rendering them ineffective to monitor works and ensure transparency in the award and execution of contracts.

While elaborating that one could not expect officials to strictly follow financial discipline and specifications given in contracts without accountability, he said the 12 officials who had been found responsible for a breach in Tori Bund last year in an investigation report were yet to be taken to task. He added that it was a matter of governance and unless there was a political will to punish those found responsible for irregularities, others would continue to defy government instructions.

About a report prepared by the committee on the supervision of repairs to the dykes and canal breached and damaged by last year floods, he said the committee had expressed its reservation on the works carried out on the S.M. Bund at Village Yar Mohammad Khoso in Matiari and at Bakhri in Naushahro Feroz, where the apron was washed away by the receding floods last year.

He added that rehabilitation work on the dykes improved after anomalies and flaws in the ongoing work had been pointed out by the com mittee in its initial report.

But the committee refused to own the rehabilitation work on canals because it found gross discrepancies in the measurement of breaches throughout the province.

According to a monitoring unit of the National Programme for Improvement of Watercourses (NPIW), which was given the task of verifying the breach lengths reported by the irrigation department, they physically measured 97 per cent of the breaches and reported a total length of 67.5 miles whereas the irrigation department had claimed a total length of 368 miles.

The committee comprising seven MPAs and one technical member acquired the services of consultants to ensure quality of work on dykes according to their specifications.

After inspecting the sites, the committee in its report stated that chief engineers and sub-engineers did not visit the area to inspect the progress. According to their briefings, 80 to 90 per cent works had been completed while these claims were not substantiated by physical inspection of these sites, the committee said.

At some places, the contractors were asking for revision of the schemes indicating that most funds paid for the repairs had instead been used in commissions, the committee’s report said.

It added that works being done on the canals were mostly substandard and being carried out without any supervision.

Engineers or their relatives were contractors.

The report also mentioned that the NITs were mostly published in less known newspapers, making transparency questionable.

Mr Shah said the committee did not compromise on quality of work as such the works on dykes appeared to be satisfactory.

The report stated that the two areas, which posed serious threat to the system and required urgent attention of the authorities concerned, were Village Yar Mohammad Khoso in Matiari (Mile 167/00, SM Bund) and Bakhri in Naushahro Feroz.

Courtesy: The DAWN

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