Islamabad — At the end of February, Media Matters for Democracy sent information requests to the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) to inquire about the Supreme Court’s popular initiative to raise funds for the construction of two dams in the country.
The Diamer Bhasha and Mohmand Dams fund had received official and public support and raised several billion of rupees. But there was no clarity on how these funds would be utilised.
In our first Right to Information (RTI) request, we asked WAPDA how the donations to the dams fund would be allocated and utilised and if WAPDA had a strategy for it. We also asked the authority whether it had conducted a feasibility study of the Diamer Bhasha dam and if we could be a given a copy or provided an expected timeline of completion for the study had it not been commissioned yet.
WAPDA wrote back with a relatively detailed response for the first request and a rather obfuscating reply to the second.
The authority stated that the Diamer Bhasha dam is planned to be constructed in nine years at the estimated cost of Rs. 1,402 billion. This total figure includes the “Interest during Construction” which will be accrued presumably on the loan used to fund the project. The base cost, WAPDA suggested, is Rs. 1,086 billion and has three components: Dam cost, power generation, and land acquisition and resettlement works.
The WAPDA letter stated that the government has provided Rs. 101 billion through its public service development programme (PSDP) as a cash loan for land acquisition and resettlement. The government will provide a further Rs. 234 billion as a PSDP grant for the dam. WAPDA will “inject equity of Rs 176 billion and remaining financial shortfall related to base cost is being arranged through local and foreign commercial financing avenues,” the WAPDA reply stated.
The six-year Mohmand Dam project is expected to cost Rs. 309.6 billion, according to WAPDA, out of which Rs. 114 billion for the dam portion would be provided by the government PSDP grant and the Rs. 141 billion for power generation will be covered through WAPDA equity and “a combination of financing avenues”.
The WAPDA letter shows that the Supreme Court dams fund donations could only contribute a small share to the costs of building the two dams. WAPDA stated that the donations “will be used to bridge any financing shortfall particularly the shortfall arising from in-ability (sic) of WAPDA to inject Equity (sic) due to either delay in receiving power sale income or partial/outright disallowance of claimed return by the regulator NEPRA”.
In the matter of the feasibility report, however, WAPDA declined to share information claiming it was undergoing a procurement process for the project and the public sharing of the study would “have a negative impact” on the procurement process.