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ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Power Wednesday severely grilled senior officials of National Transmission and Despatch Company (NTDC) for faulty contract of 765 kV Dasu transmission line project funded by the World Bank (WB).

Senator Saifullah Abro, the committee Chairman also accused World Bank officials of conniving with NTDC officials in the award to a “managed” contract, and queried how the World Bank could impose its will on the Government of Pakistan. One of the deprived company had approached different fora against the award of contract.

However, officials accuse Chairman Standing Committee of an intent to disrupt the relationship between the GoP and World Bank so that the contract is scrapped.

World Bank has already invested $900 million on Dasu hydropower project. At Dasu HPP site the Indus river has been diverted through the tunnel and the site is clear for construction of the main dam (work on main dam is in progress on fast track basis).

According to Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) powerhouse will commence operation in May 2026.

On December 29, 2022, NTDC had signed an agreement of transmission lineLot-1 with M/s Sinohydro, which was effective from February 10, 2023. The contract completion time is 40 months.

Nisar Akhtar, GM (Project Delivery-North) NTDC gave a presentation on the project to the committee and faced very tough questions from the Chairman Standing Committee, who claimed that he would deal with the officials “tailored” prequalification criteria to extend benefit to their “blue eyed” firms.

Additional Secretary Incharge Power Division, Rashid Mehmood Langrial, offered to seek opinion of PPRA on the award of contract, but the Committee rejected his offer saying that there is no need to send award to PPRA for probe as the Committee itself will deal it.

Senator Asad Ali Khan Junejo quizzed top brass of Power Division for failing to respond to his technical questions about power breakdown of January 23, 2023 especially key reason for the fault which deprived the country of power for over 12 hours.

Additional Secretary Incharge Power Division stated that black start facility did not work to resume power supply, but why it did not work is yet to be probed by a Committee constituted in the light of Cabinet decision.

In reply to a question of Senator Asad Junejo, Additional Secretary Incharge Power Division stated that “there is probability of breakdowns” in future.

According to an official press release probing reasons for the massive power breakdown that took place in January this year across the country, the Committee was informed that lack of SOPs for the operations of system, in general was a major cause for the incident. It was asserted in this particular case increase in wind power due to bad weather caused the catastrophe.

The Committee raised questions regarding the reports of the four inquiry Committees that were constituted to investigate the matter and raised strong objections regarding non-availability of the same.

The Power Division briefed the Committee that four committees have been constituted in light of direction given by the Cabinet. The notifications were issued on 4th April, 2023 and two weeks’ time was given to finalize the report. When asked about the finalization of the report, it was told the Committee that three technical reports are submitted to the Power Division and two are left.

The Power Division assured the Committee that final report will be submitted to the Committee within 29 days. The Committee also recommended Power Division to submit the notifications of these four Committees constituted by Power Division.

Deliberating over the construction of 765 kV double circuit line from Dasu Hydro Power Station to Islamabad the Committee took strong notice of the non-implementation of recommendations. It also pointed out irregularities in the tendering process and directed NTDC that information related to the local agents of World Bank who participated in the bid may be provided to the Committee. The Committee recommended Power Division to hold a departmental inquiry in this regard.

The Committee also recommended NTDC to provide a complete list of all projects undertaken by disqualified parties in the last 25 years (for hiring of consultant) may be submitted to the Committee for review. Since this project is funded by the World Bank the Ministry was directed to provide details of all agreements and ToRs to the Committee as well.

Taking up the matter of illegal appointment of DMD and other posts in NTDC, the Committee probed the reasons for delay in Board meetings and stressed that this matter may be resolved at the earliest.

Discussing the maintenance and operation status of Public Sector Power Plants installed at all GENCOs along with recovery of damage of 747MW (GT-14) from M/s GE, the Committee recommended CEO, GENCO-II to withhold the payment of M/s GE and writing to all stakeholders for expediting matters. The Committee also recommended Power Division to block the payment of M/s GE in other projects.

During consideration of Point of Public Importance regarding the process of appointments in Mepco, the CEO, and Mepco briefed the Committee in detail about the issue.

The Committee directed Power Division that details of all candidates along with their CVs and certificates may be submitted to the Committee for review within week time. It was also asserted that the two candidates applied for the position may be invited for their side of the story in the next meeting.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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