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Aug 06 - 12 , 2001

RBOD canal extension project okayed

The Rs14 billion Right Bank Outfall Drainage (RBOD) canal extension project was approved by the Central Development Working Party (CDWP) on Wednesday, it is learnt.

The canal extension work was likely to be inaugurated by President Pervez Musharraf after August 14, as part of his plan to boost the economy by launching big construction projects, an official said. A tentative date, August 20, had been suggested by the chief executive's secretariat to the Sindh government for the inauguration, the official said.

The project, he said, would be implemented by the engineers of Corps -5, with the assistance of irrigation department, Sindh. Three other projects, Greater Thal canal, Mirani dam and Gomal Zam dam, in Punjab, Balochistan and NWFP respectively, would also be inaugurated by the president, he added.

At a meeting on RBOD last year, the president had directed the Sindh government to carry out a study with the assistance of army engineers of Corps-5 for extending the drain from Sehwan up to the sea instead of discharging of RBOD effluent into the River Indus.

The Sindh irrigation department and army engineers, at a total cost of Rs 500,000, had completed the study, according to which the drain could be taken from Sehwan to the Gharo creek, the official added. He said that the study was carried out about four aspects of the project, including land acquisition, gravity flow and discharge head issues.

Engineers of the Sindh irrigation department and Five Crop estimated the total cost of the project at around Rs 14 billion. However, according to estimates of WAPDA and private consultants, Rs 80 billion was required to complete the project. The decision to involve army engineers in the project had been taken by the chief executive as there had been serious dispute between WAPDA and the Sindh government, the official said.

Tarbela Dam's storage capacity decreases

Inability on the part of the Tarbela Dam's management to maintain the minimum operating level at 1,369 feet due to greater irrigation requirements during the Kharif season has decreased the life storage capacity of the dam, official sources told.

The sources said the pressing irrigation requirements down the stream necessitated to bring down the level to 1,369 feet twice in April last, which was against the recommendation of consultants.

The consultant firms, TAMS and HR Wailling Fort, in one of their three main recommendations under a study back in 1998, had suggested that minimum operating level (MOL) of the Tarbela reservoir should be raised by four feet every year to cope with the silt problem. It was recommended that MOL should be maintained at four feet higher than the preceding year.

Mangla dam height approved

President Gen Pervez Musharraf on Monday approved the controversial Mangla Dam project under which the dam's height would be raised by 40 feet at a cost of Rs53 billion.

"The project has been approved in principle. However, a formal announcement to this effect will be made later," a highly-placed source told. The approval was accorded at a meeting presided over by Gen Musharraf and attended among others by Water and Power Secretary Mirza Hamid Hassan, Wapda chairman Lt-Gen Zulfiqar Ali Khan, and Information Secretary Anwar Mahmood.

The participants agreed that a formal announcement about the launch of the project should not be made without allaying the reservations of the people and government of Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

Mill demand revived

The cotton market on Thursday showed signs of revival of mill demand as needy among them seems to have broken the ice after a series of blank trading sessions. More than 5,000 bales changed hands as reports of higher consumption figures by most of the leading spinners to cover rising textile exports worried those spinners whose stock positions were not that ideal.

Saindak Metals dissolved

The Saindak Metals Limited ( SML) has been dissolved at a formal meeting of the board of directors held in Islamabad recently, sources disclosed.

The SML no more exists and all its assets will go under the direct control of the ministry of petroleum and natural resources. The assets included costly vehicles, luxury cars, office equipment, air conditioners, furniture and other assets. The dissolution of SML will give a free-hand to bureaucracy over the vast assets and the resources of SML.

Road projects approved

The federal government on Saturday approved two mega road projects for Karachi to facilitate the flow of cargo to and from Karachi port and also provide easy and uninterrupted flow of commuter traffic within metropolitan city, official sources said.

The remodelled and redesigned Karachi Northern bypass and the Lyari expressway will be built at a total estimated cost of Rs6 billion down from the original estimated cost of Rs13 billion and both will be completed within 36 months. The go ahead to these two important highway projects of long-term importance was given at a special presentation by the National Highway Authority reviewed by the President Pervez Musharraf.

Profitable crops

Federal Minister for Food and Agriculture Khair Mohammad Junejo has urged farmers to grow profitable crops to compete in the international market.

Talking to APP on Saturday the minister said fruits, vegetables and flowers have good potential in international market. Pakistan's soil and climate have bright prospects for mass production of these crops which can earn valuable foreign exchange for the country with ultimate benefit to the growers.