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.
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.
Wapda’s top seat has been very lucrative for the retired bureaucrats.
In October 2010, Ministry of Water and Power chalked out a plan to reduce the tenure of the head of Wapda from five to three years to show the door to Durrani so that the outgoing secretary water and Power Shahid Rafi could be appointed in his place after retirement. But the plan did not materialised due to unidentified reasons.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 13th, 2012.