ISLAMABAD: China has reportedly sought compensation of $38 million (Rs 6.5 billion) from Pakistan for the dead and injured Chinese engineers working on Dasu Hydropower Project, prior to resuming work on the stalled project, well informed sources told Business Recorder.
On July 14, 2021, thirteen people, including nine Chinese engineers, two locals and two personnel of the Frontier Constabulary (FC) died and over two dozen other people sustained injuries when a bus carrying the team working on the project fell into a ravine after it was hit by a car laden with explosives.
Pakistani authorities say that Indian Spy Agency, RAW, was directly involved in the attack on the Chinese team working on construction of tunnel site of 4,300MW Dasu project.
According to Secretary Water Resources, Dr Shahzeb Khan Bangash, the civil work in the project has been stalled since the attack on Chinese engineers in July.
The sources said the issue of compensation to the Chinese nationals is being discussed at a high level. Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Water Resources and Chinese embassy were working closely on the compensation package, as well as, resumption of work on the project.
According to sources, the Steering Committee, comprising Secretaries of concerned Ministries had constituted another Committee which deliberated on the issues linked to Dasu project, especially volume of compensation being demanded by the Chinese government.
The Committee has constituted a Subcommittee, comprising all the relevant Ministries to discuss compensation package by taking the Chinese embassy on board as the proposed package is being termed as “irrational”.
The sources said, the Subcommittee of all Ministries will deliberate on the compensation package demanded by the Chinese government and will share its working with the main committee, which will give its approval. “The Subcommittee will develop a benchmark for compensation considering that if the demand of Chinese government is met as it is it will create issues for the government in future,” the sources maintained. Secretary Water Resources, the sources said, is hopeful that compensation issue will be sorted out within a couple of weeks, after which civil work on the site will resume.
National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) which had allowed one per cent of capital cost as security to be built in the consumers’ end tariff, has not yet inquired from the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) as to the reasons for the insufficient security to those who are working on power projects.
The Chinese firm, China Gezhouba Group Corp, which suspended work on the Dasu project after the bus incident, had announced negation of its decision to resume work and terminate Pakistani workers, on the request of the Pakistani government. However, the company has not yet resumed work and is saying that it will not proceed ahead until compensation package and more security of Chinese nationals is provided.
Recently, Chairman Water and Power Development Authority, Lt. Gen. Muzammal Hussain (retired) who has secured another term met Prime Minister Imran Khan and briefed him about hydropower projects including the Dasu project.
“We are in close contact with the Chinese embassy in Islamabad, as well as, China Gezhouba Group Corp so that work resumes on the project within the next 15 days,” said an official on condition of anonymity.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021