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World Bank suspends $200m worth Balochistan water development project.

ISLAMABAD:The World Bank has suspended a $200 million loan due to allegations of corruption in Balochistan Integrated Water Resource Management and Development Project.The project was aimed to strengthen the provincial government's capacity for monitoring and managing water resources and to improve community-based water management for targeted irrigation schemes in Balochistan.

Sources told this scribe that the lending organization had signed the project with the government of Pakistan three years ago.Documents state that the project was supposed to mobilise communities to participate in the construction and rehabilitation of irrigation and drinking water supply facilities, flood protection infrastructure, watershed management, and environmental protection work as well as on-farm water management and agricultural productivity.

Moreover, the project beneficiaries were supposed to be small-holding farmers (up to 12.3 acres) and medium holding farmers (12.35 to 49.4 acres) engaged in irrigated agriculture.Approximately 42,800 farm households were supposed to benefit from the project's interventions.

The province's hydro-meteorological monitoring and river basin information systems were also to be strengthened, the document added.Sources further told that MS Nayaz and Co had won the award of civil works worth $10 million and MS AC and one company G3 was the joint venture in this project.

Later on, it came to the knowledge that Ms Nayaz and Co had given false information about its company and one person complained to National Accountability Bureau (NAB) about the alleged corruption in awarding civil works.Subsequently, NAB started an investigation and the WB came to know about the suspicions of corruption so the secretary irrigation in Balochistan was probed.

As the matter came to public knowledge, the staff was sacked.As a result, the World Bank on Friday suspended the project and offered to work with the Government of Balochistan over the next thirty days to restructure the scope and governance arrangements to more realistically begin to deliver sustainable water management to the province.

"Balochistan Integrated Water Resource Management and Development Project was signed three years ago, Unfortunately, there has since then been a lack of progress in managing the project, disbursing funds, proceeding with the civil works, and fiduciary control," it said.The World Bank currently has commitments of more than $250 million in Balochistan, with the main investments in education, health, governance, and water.

Sustainable water management is a priority for Balochistan and the World Bank is strongly committed to working with its government to develop this critical resource for the people of the province.It is pertinent to mention here that the overall WB has 40 projects with a commitment of $7.42 billion including investments of over $3 billion in water management, hydropower, and irrigated agriculture.

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Publication:Pakistan Today (Lahore, Pakistan)
Date:Mar 30, 2019
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