Community seeks labour cost of 'failed' power project

Community seeks labour cost of ‘failed’ power project

AWI (UPPER CHITRAL): The residents of Awi have demanded that Aga Khan Rural Support Program (AKRSP) should pay them wages for the labour they rendered in the establishment of a government-funded powerhouse at Mem Gol that failed to achieve the target of electricity generation.

At a meeting chaired by former district health officer (DHO) Dr Sher Qayyum, the managing committee of the project said the AKRSP was free to shift the machinery of the power project elsewhere but it should pay the cost of labour to the community.

The wages for labour equal to 20 per cent of the total cost of the project stands at Rs6.5 million. This decision has been taken as the committee is now left with no alternative, they added.

It may be noted that in 2014, the KP government allocated Rs8.6 billion for construction of six medium sized hydropower projects in Chitral, having 527 megawatt generation capacity.

Pakhtunkhwa Energy Development Organisation (PEDO) started work on the sites under the annual development plan 2014-15.

When work was started in the Mem Gol mini-hydel power project in Aug 2017, the locals were told that it would be ready within just three months. But the project then remained in the doldrums.

The meeting of the committee in Awi expressed their disappointment over the failure of the project and blamed the officials and engineers of the AKRSP for it, participants told ChitralToday.

The committee members said despite reservations expressed by the locals about the shortage of water in Mem Gol, the AKRSP engineers in their feasibility report had declared the volume of water in the stream to be seven cusecs claiming that it would generate 150 to 170 KV of electricity. But the powerhouse could generate only 27 KV.

On the demand of the people that lines should be laid on the basis of the capacity of the powerhouse to transmit 220 voltage, the engineers laid transmission lines up to seven km and tried to pitch the local people against each other.

Despite repeated demand, the AKRSP officials did not provide the committee with information about amount spent on the project on different excuses.

On the objection raised by the committee about use of substandard material in the construction of the water channel, a government organization after conducting an audit had ordered reconstruction of the 300 feet channel. However, the channel was never reconstructed.

The participants of the meeting said the AKRSP had given the deadline of Oct 30, 2016, for the completion of the project but it is still incomplete even over four years after the expiry of the deadline.

The committee said the local people actively took part in the construction of the powerhouse, taking machinery, pipes and other equipment to the hilltop and installing transmission poles and laying lines to consumers at a distance of seven km.

Therefore, the organization should pay the wages to the local people for the labor they rendered in the failed project.

The meeting was attended by members of the committee including manager Ali Jabbar Khan, presient Sher Qayyum, members Sher Wazir, Muhamamd Rasool, Qubad Shahriyar, Momin Ali Shah, Mir Alam and Rahmat Khan.

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