Army gets work on Mangla restarted
22 May 2005
Ahmad Fraz Khan
Lahore: Intervention by the ‘army authorities’ has helped restart work on the raising of Mangla Dam, which remained suspended for six months due to a dispute on cost of material between the contractor and the lessee of land around the dam. According to sources in the Ministry of Water and Power, the army authorities met at the GHQ last Tuesday and took serious note of delay in the completion of the project. After the meeting, they instructed the contractor to start excavating material from all available sources without bothering about the cost which would be decided later. The instructions were passed on to the contractor on Thursday, and he has restarted work. The contractor has started excavating sand, stone and gravel from the riverbed, a job it had not been allowed up to now. It has also been asked to start getting material from sites falling in Azad Kashmir regardless of leases granted to any party. According to a spokesman for the contractor, work has resumed at full pace. He was confident that time loss could be minimized if there was no further hiccup. Talking about the possibility of a recurrence of price war, he hoped that this might not be the case as intervention this time had come from the highest level. “Sensitivity about the time loss grew at the highest level after a visit by Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz to the site,” they said. The prime minister was briefed about the dispute and consequent delay in the project three weeks ago. Local military authorities intervened in the matter but could not settle the dispute as the contractor was not ready to pay the price demanded by the lessees of the land around the dam from where the material had to be excavated, they claimed. They said that military authorities were also aware of sensitivity at the highest level about the project and decided to move in without further delay. The contractor and lessees around the dam site had been in a dispute over the cost of material for the last many months.