Islamabad   -    A parliamentary Committee directed the government to investigate about the delays and irregularities in K-IV project and penalise the responsible people as the cost of the project increased by 400 percent. The Senate Standing Committee on Planning Development and Reforms that met with Senator Agha Shahzaib Durrani in chair also expressed serious reservation over inclusion of 44 non-approved schemes in the PSDP 2019-20. While briefing the committee federal minister for Planning Development and Reforms Khusro Bakhtiar said that the cost of the K-IV project was increased from Rs26 billion to Rs130 billion.

He said that Water Supply, Sewerage and infrastructure development project in Karachi require $3 billion and the government is ready to borrow that amount to resolve the problems of the Karachi. The minister said that free water can be supplied to underdeveloped area but for cities it should not be charged. He said the government will seek the help from World Bank and Asian Development Bank for the Karachi water supply project. The minister said that the current supply of water to Karachi is 500 MGD against the demand of 1200 MGD

The Minister told the Committee that meetings were held a few days ago with the government of Sindh and the matter was discussed at length. He told that in addition to realignment of K-IV project phase, K-I, K-II, K-III also need some optimisation. He said that NESPAK presented the initial K-IV Design review findings and has proposed design improvements after completion of technical study by NESPAK by end of September 2019. NESPAK will submit complete feasibility study of technically viable and economically feasible solution of K-IV project to Government of Sindh within two months. Joint Technical Review Committee will review and assess the NESPAK report. The Committee directed that TORs of this joint committee should be shared with this committee of the Senate. Chairman Committee emphasised on the need of paying due consideration to the kind of consultants hired for such project as they later contribute in cost escalation and extended timelines. The Committee also observed that huge responsibility lies on the ministry of planning that vets all the project and has to have responsible people for this job. Chairman Committee directed the ministry to investigate about the delays and irregularities in K-IV project and penalise the responsible people.

On the issue of inclusion of 44 projects in the PSDP after approval, the committee asked that how unapproved projects were added to the PSDP? Chairman of the Committee Senator Agha Shahzaib Durrani expressed serious reservation over inclusion of non-approved schemes and said that these schemes never appeared in PSDP presented to Senate and this Committee. The Committee during its meetings on budget PSDP proposals was assured that no new projects that came under provincial domain will be included in PSDP and no unapproved projects will be included. The Committee also observed that the committee was assured that no projects to be funded from PSDP which are to be funded by SDGs and at the same time no recommendation of Senate was entertained at any time. Despite all these assurances 44 unapproved projects were included in new PSDP book which was never presented in the Senate. He further said that such inclusion of projects in PSDP is unconstitutional. Chairman of the Committee said that these schemes are included to oblige one particular party in Balochistan. Even, Leader of the House in Senate Senator Shibli Faraz also expressed concern over the procedure adopted for finalisation of the schemes. The Chairman constituted a sub-Committee comprising of Senators Mir Kabeer Muhammad Shahi, Rukhsana Zuberi and Hidayatullah to probe this matter.

While discussing the draft Energy Policy 2019, the Committee asked AEDP to share the draft with the committee for its input and also asked for an extensive briefing on what incentives are being provided to investors for renewable energy sector and how the current policy will be different from the Energy Policy of 2019. Chairman Committee Senator Durrani was of the view that the directions were also given in the last meeting to make the new draft an investor friendly incentive for businesses as well as overseas Pakistanis so that they can help make Pakistan’s energy grid a good mix of renewable and non-renewable energy. Leader of the House was of the view that renewable Energy is being discouraged by design and many people who came to invest in this sector are going away again.