All irrigation canals in Sindh closed to avoid breaches


LAHORE: Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) said here on Monday that all irrigation canals off-taking from Guddu, Sukkur and Kotri barrages have been closed to avoid devastating canal breaches in the province.

The Sindh Irrigation engineers are discharging all the run of the river Indus water is into the Indus delta following heavy rains in the province. Met office recorded 441 millimetre rain at Jacobabad 441, 192mm at Sukkur 179mm at Rohri 179, 94mm at Larkana 94, 50mm at Badin 35mm at Chorr 35, during past 24 hours.

Meanwhile Met Office has predicted widespread thunderstorm/rain with scattered heavy to very heavy falls at times extremely heavy falls over Hyderabad, Karachi, Sukkur, Larkana, Zhob, Kalat, Sibbi, Nasirabad, DG Khan Divisions.

Scattered thunderstorm/rain with isolated heavy falls is also expected over Mirpurkhas, Multan, Bahawalpur and Sahiwal divisions. Isolated thunderstorm/rain is expected over Upper Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan.

Flash flooding is likely to continue in the Nullahs and Hill Torrents of DG Khan, Nasirabad, Sibbi and Zhob divisions on Tuesday (today) Heavy to very heavy rainfall in Karachi and Hyderabad divisions may generate Urban Flooding in the areas.

Forecast for Sindh today:

Widespread rain/thundershowers with isolated heavy falls is expected in Sindh on Tuesday. Heavy rains may cause more urban and flash flooding in the vulnerable areas of the province today.

Balochistan: Widespread rain/thunder showers with isolated heavy falls is expected in eastern parts of Balochistan on Tuesday. Heavy rains would cause flash floods in Quetta, Zhob, Sibbi, Kalat and Nasirabad divisions

Islamabad/Punjab: Scattered rain/thundershower (with isolated heavy falls in southwest Punjab) is expected on Tuesday. Heavy rains may cause more flash flooding in the vulnerable areas of D G Khan division during the period.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: Isolated Rain/Thunder-showers is expected in KP on

Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan: Isolated Rain/Thundershowers is expected in Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan on Tuesday.

Weather during past 24 hours: Widespread rain/thundershower with heavy falls occurred in southern Punjab, Sindh, while scattered rain/TS occurred in upper Punjab, Kashmir and eastern Balochistan.

Heavy Monsoon Rains in Sindh/Balochistan likely to start weakening today.


USAID, Wapda to sign canal agreement today

ISLAMABAD : The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Water and Power Development Bank Authority (WAPDA) will sign Waran canal agreement today (Wednesday)for the construction of the 164km long Waran Canal system in Tank district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Under the agreement, USAID will provide $12 million funding for construction of the 164km long Waran Canal system to bring 28,000 acres of land under permanent irrigation in Tank district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Waran canal is part of the larger on-going Gomal Zam Irrigation Project. With the addition of Waran Canal, USAID will build a canal system to irrigate 191,000 acres of land that has been mostly barren. The canal system will enable local communities to work their lands, create jobs, and improve incomes for the region.

The USAID Mission Director, the WAPDA Chairman, as well as an elder from the Waran canal area will give their remarks on the signing ceremony which will be held here in Islamabad. Continue reading

USAID, Wapda ink $12m agreement

ISLAMABAD  - The United States will provide $12 million for the construction of Warn Canal system that will supply year round irrigation water to over 28,000 acres of barren land in Tank, Khyber Pakhtunkhawa.An agreement was signed by United States Agency for International Development (USAID) country chief Jock Conly and Chairman Water and Power Development Authority here at Wapda Staff College at a simple ceremony.

The project of construction of Waran Canal will be funded through USAID and implemented by Wapda and will be completed within six months.Jock Conly, Country Director USAID in Pakistan, said, “Water is one of the biggest constraints on agriculture and economic growth in Pakistan and by helping to construct this irrigation system, will increase employment opportunities and income for the local communities.” Continue reading

Power theft law: how effective it will be

THERE is news about the law for prevention of electricity theft, wherein there is a proposal of one year imprisonment and Rs0.1 million fine for those found guilty of meter tampering.

This law has serious flaws and may lead to misuse by opponents to settle the scores with their rivals. Moreover, Wapda employees often involved in rigging the bills may tamper the meters themselves for those not agreeing to pay the ‘monthly’.

I know a woman whose separated husband is a line superintendent in Wapda (Mesco) and keeps the woman under pressure by having her billed heavily to the tune of Rs25,000 to 30,000 a month for a seven – marla house.

When she contacted the authorities, he managed to put the blame on her for meter tampering. Such culprits go unpunished because they are feeding their corrupt superiors and helping corrupt politicians steal electricity for their factories.

I, therefore suggest that (1) the law should have strict provisions for Wapda employees involved in corrupt practices. Meters may be shifted inside the premises to protect them from tampering by outsiders and easy apportioning of the blame on users.

The misuse of free electricity by Wapda employees may be checked strictly.

The redress of users’ grievances may be assigned to some independent body instead of those who are involved in preparation of inflated bills, and they must be held responsible for overcharging for the wrong motives. Continue reading

20,000MW to be added by 2020: WAPDA

ISLAMABAD  - Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) Chairman Syed Raghib Abbas Shah on Wednesday said that a number of projects of affordable energy are under progress and after completion WAPDA will be able to add 20,000 Megawatts (MW) into the national grid by 2020 with the continuous availability of funds for these projects.

Talking to reporters after signing an agreement with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for providing $ 12 million for the construction of Waran Canal in Tank, the WAPDA chairman said that 300 MW would be added to the national grid by March next year.

He said Neelam-Jehlum Hyrdo Project of 1000 MW would be ready by 2016 while Tarbella up-gradation project of 1400 MW would be ready in the next four years.

The Chairman also said that work on the 4500 MW Diamer-Bhasha Dam was also going on and negotiations were underway for the availability of financial assistance for the project. Continue reading

Rat race heats up for WAPDA’s top seat


Several potential candidates are in the race to take over the post of chairman of the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) after the service of former chairman Shakeel Durani expired on September 7.

Member Water Wapda Raghib Abbas Shah is currently the acting chairman of the authority.

“Shah is a strong candidate to become the new chairman of Wapda,” a senior official of the Ministry of Water and Power said. Shah is from the province of Sindh whereas the former chairman was from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

The other potential candidate is the chairman of the Federal Board of Revenue Ali Arshad Hakim. He has previously headed the National Database and Registration Authority.

Former secretary of Ministry of Industries Aziz Bilour is considered as another strong competitor for the post. He is the sibling of Haji Ghulam Ahmad Bilour, Federal Minister for Railways. Sources said that the Awami National Party was pressing the leadership of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) to appoint Aziz to Wapda’s top seat.

Neelum Jhelum Hydropower Company CEO Lt Gen (retd) Muhammad Zubair Ahmed is also a potential winner for the race. He is currently implementing the Neelum Jhelum hydropower project in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK). The project has been delayed resulting in jacking up the cost of the construction to Rs333 billion against Rs130 billion in 2008. Ahmed has served as the member infrastructure, Planning Commission during Musharraf’s regime.

Sources said that the water and power ministry had not finalised panel names for the seat. However, these emerging candidates were lobbying to grab the seat. They also said that some retired army men were also in race to become the new chairman Wapda.

The Ministry of Water and Power had moved a summary to the prime minister in July 2012 to grant an extension for one-year to the former chairman Durrani who had completed his five-year tenure on September 7. However, the premier refused to grant the extension. Continue reading

People complain against carelessness of Wapda meter-readers

Electricity consumers residing in different localities of Rawalpindi are facing huge bills due to carelessness on the part of the staff of Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) in the performance of their official duties.

According to consumers of localities including Harley Street, Dheri Hassanabad, Talhi Mohri, Sabzazar Colony, Kamalabad, Aslam Shaheed Road, Dhoke Juma, they are receiving heavy bills of electricity as meter-readers don’t take meter reading on a fixed date some time making the bill for more than 30 days. The practice not only increases the number of units but also General Sales Tax that double the total amount.

They said meter-readers are supposed to take meter reading within the first week of the month but they don’ t perform their duty on time and usually come for meter reading after 10 to 15 days, which is resulting in inflated bills, complain Mohsin Khan of Harley Street and Ishtiaq Ahmed of Ghausia Chowk, Talhi Mohri, while talking to ‘The News’.

They alleged that the meter readers sometimes do not even turn up to note reading but send excessive bills with exaggerated units.

The consumers have appealed to the concerned high-ups in their respective sub-stations of Wapda/Iesco to chalk out a proper system and policy, directing the meter-readers to take reading on fixed dates or during first week of every month. It would save consumers from extra burden of amount in electricity bills. Continue reading

Residents of twin cities raise their voice against sheesha smoking

ISLAMABAD: The residents of twin cites of Islamabad and Rawalpindi on Wednesday urged the authorities concerned to implement effective strategies to curb the menace of sheesha consumption among youngsters and teenagers on public places.

Most hotels, restaurants and cafes in Islamabad and Rawalpindi, like other big cities of the country, are openly offering this deadly product in a variety of flavours, where youngsters hang out and the sheesha houses do not face any hurdle to satiate their desire.

Sheesha offers a mixture of crude types of tobacco fermented with molasses and fruits and the sweet odour of fruits conceals natural smell of tobacco, tar and nicotine.

Ahmad Bilal, a senior official in a government organisation, told APP, “The deadly smoking habit has become a fashion symbol in society. The smokers, however, don’t know that it is a delicious killer, which kills the person gradually.” Everyday new sheesha cafes are opening up in the country because of its increasing demand by the younger generation, he added.

Zehra Jabeen, a professor at a local college, said, “Sale of cigarettes or other tobacco items to youngsters below 18 is banned in Pakistan. But various sheesha outlets at Jinnah Super, Melody, F10, Pir Suhawa and other restaurants of the federal capital openly violate the laws that bar the sale of tobacco to youngsters below the age of 18.” Continue reading

Water in reservoirs enough for 7 months supply to twin cities: WASA

RAWALPINDI - Water level has risen significantly in Simly, Khanpur and Rawal dams owing to the recent rains and it is enough for seven months supply to twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

Talking to INP, MD WASA said that the three dams are still short of 12 acre foot water. He said that though the rain on Margalla Hills, Murree, and other hills, the catchments of Rawal and Khanpur dams, rose water level in the dams but it was not enough to completely fill them.

He further informed that the water level had risen to a dangerous level last year and spillways were opened to lessen the pressure. He said that there is 1,744 acre foot water in Rawal Dam and water level in Khanpur Dam is still very low. Continue reading

CDA can’t handle fire

ISLAMABAD, Sept 12: As the horror of 300 deaths in factory fires in Karachi and Lahore sinks in, questions are being raised on the ability of local civic agencies to contain such incidents.

Dawn’s investigations show that if such a fire were to break out in Islamabad, the Capital Development Authority (CDA) would be ‘ill prepared’ to deal with it.

“The civic authority lacks both sound logistical support and adequate information on the Industrial Triangle Area, Kahuta Road,” confessed a high-ranking CDA official, adding that “the authority is clueless about the different types of chemicals being used in factories, blueprints of building structures and the workforce strength”.

Going into details, he told Dawn that even though the agency had imported vehicles and equipment from Sweden and Japan, most of it had fallen into disrepair.For instance, the CDA has four multi-million-dollar fire snorkels imported from Sweden, but only one of them is working.

“The other three have been in disuse for the past few months, and the board has not shown any interest in getting them fixed,” he said.

The Swedish fire tenders let firemen scale up heights of 68 metres and 29 metres respectively, and were imported specifically after the Shaheed-i-Millat Secretariat was burnt down in 2002 as no CDA vehicle had been able to reach the then tallest building in the city.

“Similarly, the aerial ladder truck imported from Japan to scale heights of 42 metres – sufficient to reach any building in Blue Area – has been out of order for the last five months,” the official revealed.

To aggravate matters, a number of operational double cabin vehicles of the Disaster Management Directorate (DMD) of the CDA have been given to blue-eyed officials of the chairman office.

“Four operational vehicles of the Disaster Management Directorate (DMD) meant to meet emergencies have been allocated to senior ranking officials on their requests,” added an administration wing official.

Another board member of the authority claimed that the DMD has been dormant of late.

“Rescue officials do not have logistical support: their long distance wireless system is inoperative, there is no proper resting spot, and tools and batteries are missing to conduct night-time rescue operations,” said the official.

But if the authority has been laid-back about averting disasters, businessmen with high stakes in the industrial area are equally guilty of the same.

In February this year, when the CDA had attempted to compile a database on the 700 industrial units operating in the federal capital territory, the response was cold.

The CDA had distributed Industrial Safety Forms to document the type of chemicals stored and used in production processes in the industrial units, which range from steel mills, flour mills, food processing units, building material industries, pharmaceutical companies to hardware and electric appliances manufacturing industries and large-sized warehouses.

“It was not just a hazard mapping survey for the industries but it was meant at limiting the loss of property and human life in industrial areas. Our intention was to secure their unit against the dangers of fire from hazardous chemicals,” said a DMD official.

“The CDA management and the businessmen both were not interested since the industrialists feared that an entry into their factories will open doors for CDA building control and urban planning mafia to mint money,” said one industrialist.

However, the CDA official added: “There was a management change at the DMD in Dec 2011 and no official was willing to work on creative lines and modern disaster management techniques.”

The CDA spokesman, Masoodur Rehman, when approached for comments, admitted that: “Snorkels at Directorate of Disaster Management are out of order.”

He said since spare parts of these snorkels were not available in the local market, the authority was now in the process of releasing finances to import the spare parts.

The spokesman, however, failed to share any exact date as to how and when the Swedish fire tenders would be made operational.

Mr Rehman insisted that their only operational fire tender was enough to meet any untoward fire incident in the city.

“In case of a major disaster, we can seek help from Rawalpindi fire department,” the official added. Continue reading