PESHAWAR, July 20: The 17.4 megawatt Gomal Zam Dam Project (GDZP) is expected to begin electricity generation by the end of the current year as work on its hydel power component has entered final stages, according to officials.
Saleem Khan, project director of GZDP, told Dawn that the dam’s construction had been completed, while 55 per cent work on the laying of power transmission line for transporting electricity from powerhouse to a 132kv grid in Tank district had been finished.
“The power generation is expected to begin either in September or October this year,” he said. Launched in 2002, the multipurpose GDZP has overshot its completion cost by around Rs9 billion and timeline by more than five years, according to official documents.
Though the Water and Power Development Authority wants to inaugurate the hydel power component by October, the prospects of the same appear to be quite dim, according to Peshawar-based official sources.
They said work on the setting up of the main switchyard was likely to take some more time as some important equipment had yet to come from China, undermining the prospects of starting power generation in October.
The project had been planned to complete in 2006 and a Chinese firm had been hired to execute it.
However, its execution was halted after two Chinese engineers working at the construction site were kidnapped by Taliban prompting contractors to depart for security reasons.
Later, the Frontier Works Organisation, a military subsidiary, was awarded the contract in 2007 at the cost of Rs12.8 billion, including Rs7.9 billion local investment and Rs4.9 billion foreign funding.
“The revised completion cost has gone to Rs21 billion, undergoing a massive increase due to price hike,” a senior official of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government said.
The project, said the government official, was also experiencing some funding issues consequently its hydel power station might not be ready before October 2012.
An amount of around $10 million was payable to the Chinese firm that FWO engaged for constructing the dam, said the government official.
He said a considerable amount of the money was payable as ‘damages’ that had accumulated since 2009 due to the delay.
“The GDZP authorities have been looking forward towards the government of Pakistan for the provision of the additional funds,” said the official, adding that the delay had negatively impacted the foreign contractors’ work.
He said there was a hope that the payment issue might be cleared in the near future as USAID, a funding partner of the Government of Pakistan, had shown ‘some interest’ in extending help in this regard.
Meanwhile, the chances to begin power generation in the next few months would depend on the availability of water in the dam’s catchment area.
According to official sources, the GDZP authorities want the water reservoir to touch 743 meter level, which would largely depend on seasonal rains during the current monsoon. At present, the storage stands at 714 meter level and for the generation to begin it must touch, at least, the
720 meter level.
“It is important that the reservoir touches the 743 meter level because it will ensure consistency in power generation,” said an official.
With a life storage capacity of 0.892 million acre feet, the reservoir receives inflows from Zhob River, from Balochistan, and Gomal River that flows into Pakistan from Afghanistan.