Rs12bn Sukkur Barrage rehabilitation project okayed

KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah has approved a Rs12.6 billion Sukkur Barrage Rehabilitation project under which flood capacity would be increased by 150,000 cusecs and entire barrage system to be controlled from the control room.

He took this decision while presiding over a high level meeting here at the CM House today. The meeting was attended by Senior Minister for Finance & irrigation Syed Murad Ali Shah, Chief Secretary Siddique Memon, Additional Chief Secretary (Development) Aijaz Ali Khan, Secretary Irrigation Zaheer Hyder Shah, waters experts Idress Rajput, Bashir Dahar and Ali Gohar Shah, British Consultant Ian Heije and his team members.

Briefing the meeting the consultant, Mr Ian Heijne said that under the project the barrage structure would be made safe and sound; flood capacity to be enhanced from 11.5 lac cusecs to 13 lac cusecs and also ensure the improvement in the operation and management of the barrage system.

He gave three options for rehabilitation of Sukkur Barrage. The first option costing Rs12.6 billion is to retain the existing River Training works under which flood capacity would improve from 11.5 lac cusecs to 13 lac cusecs, he said and added “it also requires improving management to reduce sediment entry to canals”.

Talking about second option Mr. Ian suggest to modify River training works to increase river width. It would increase the flood from 11.5 lac to 15 lac cusecs with improved flow concentration. I would cost Rs25.2 billion.

The third option, the consultant gave was to increase number of River spans, enlarge settling and opening of all the 10 closed gates. It would also increase the flood capacity to 15 lac cusecs. This would cost Rs26.3 billion.

Secretary Irrigation Zaheer Hyder Shah suggested that the three option given by the consultant after going through a 4-year study have different impacts. “But what we need is to discuss all the three options threadbare,” he said.

Water Expert Idress Rajput suggested that the structure of the barrage was strong enough. Therefore, option one suits better than the other options and recommended the chair to approve it.

Water Expert Mr Bashir Dahar said that it is the SOP of the barrage management that effective flushing, closure of headworks during large flows are to be made. “If proper procedure is adopted then every problem would be solved. “As far as increasing the pond of level of Sukkur Barrage is concerned it has to be approved by the chief minister even if an inch is increased,” he pointed out.

Water Expert Mr Ali Gohar Shah said that if pond level of Sukkur Barrage was increased it would cause seepage on both the banks, right and left. Therefore, an alternate arrangement may also be adopted.

Irrigation Minister suggested to approve option one under which flood capacity of the Sukkur Barrage would come to 13 lac cusecs. “We do not need to increase its flood capacity to 15 lac cusecs because the flood capacity of Guddu Barrage is 12 lac cusecs.

Secretary Irrigation Zaheer Hyder Shah said that the option one includes different works such as dredging and excavation for silt disposal, civil works for repair and rehabilitation of barrage and canal head regulators, change of gates and mechanical works, modernizing of monitoring and control instrumentation, construction of new building for monitoring and control, laboratory, workshop and others buildings.

Chief Secretary Siddique Memon said that almost all the issues and problems of the Sukkur Barrage have been covered in the option one. If the pond level of the barrage is increased it would improve discharge in canals of the left Bank.

The chief minister said that Sukkur Barrage was lifeline of our agro-economy. “Most of our population depends on it. Therefore, its rehabilitation is overdue.

On the suggestion of the irrigation department and water experts Sindh chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah approved firsts option under which existing arrangement would be maintained and directed the Irrigation department to conduct silt control study.