Engineer Sajjad Haider
It is evident from the news emanating from different local and national news papers that the government of Gilgit Baltistan is faced with severe shortage of funds to keep the government, its subsidiaries and affiliates functioning normally. At the same time, provision of services related to health, education, water, sanitation and electricity are poor qualitatively and quantitatively. If someone would ask relevant authorities – Chief Secretary and other secretaries as to what are the reasons for this abject state of affairs? My measured guess of their potential answer is “Money”. As a practicing engineering and project management professional, I honestly believe that though there will be requirement of additional funds but more importantly revisiting the current functioning of the two of most important departments – PWD and GB W&PD is must to ensure the value for public money and that it does not go down the drain in the bottomless jar made up of these two departments.
In one of my interaction with Mr. Mohammad Ali (Ex-Engr W&PD) in his office, I was astonished to know the in adequacy of engineering skills possessed by these engineers. This gentleman was calculating required power for Gilgit by simply multiplying 5 Kilowatts with the number of user connections and was arriving at a colossal figure of something above 50 mega watts. I don’t know if our equally competent bureaucrats in Gilgit and Islamabad are basing all their works, projects and planning on this figure. If they are doing so, then I am sorry we shall not reach anywhere or indebt our country and future generations to the other donor countries vis-à-vis Pakistan. The required power in the subject application is calculated by incorporating “Diversity Factor” (Not all consumers are active – some shops are closed, some domestic consumers are not in home) and “Utilization Factor” ( Not all the equipment operate at rated values) and it should be much less than 50 mega watts.
The same gentleman asked me to visit Haramosh and Guro hydropower plants to investigate and fix HMI and a function in the PLC control of turbine governor respectively. Both these problems could be solved at a cost of 150,000 rupees and avert any irreversible damage to the machines that can cost ten’s of million rupees (Generator of Guro has perhaps already incurred millions on its repairs and finally total replacement). Similarly, other hydropower plants in Kargah and Hunza Nagar were either in service with a number of critical control and protection functions bypassed/in activated, totally de commissioned or out of service. Generator of the third power house at the lowest level near the river bank, worth millions of rupees is sunk in the sand of Hassanabd (Hunza) Nallah due to criminal negligence of the W&PD officials while storing the generator after dismantling from the power house in a bid to preempt any damage that could befall the power house equipment should Atta Abad lake bursts. I do not think the officials responsible for this damage have faced music for their criminal negligence. I wonder if some journalist in GB will follow the proceedings on this power house and find out how much money has been asked or spent for re-installing the power house equipment for normal operation for a departmental negligence and not a natural calamity.
The bidding and tendering advertisements appearing in the local newspapers quite often bear mistakes in simple English text, let alone technical specifications. Tendering documents, drawings, specifications, scope of works etc being very important components of public sector procurement and works have in adequate and in accurate information, thereby jeopardizing the success of any project undertaken by the raffish titans of the two departments.
I tried to retrieve ‘ADP” from W&PD and one allocation for the year 2010 thrilled me and it was ‘Strengthening of penstock pipe for Perishing Power Plant”. I am still struggling to discern and understand the strengthening of penstock pipe but no to no avail because such preposterous technologies are available in GB. I came to know that this Perishing Hydropower project penstock pipe has busted two times causing sizeable damage to the residents living in the proximity of the pipe. This bursting of penstock pipe was due to the fact that design aspects including but not limited to engineering design, layout, material selection, welding procedure and installation for high head application were wrong. Mr. Mehdi who was the then Ex-Engr and coordinator for the project, instead of being fired, humiliated and punished has been promoted to the coveted post of Chief Engineer.
There is illicit, criminal and brazen collusion between officials of these departments and contractors and they easily maneuver and make mockery of procedures that are in fact delineated to discourage and avoid such collusion. As a result, excellence, competence and honesty are rarest attributes in Gilgit Baltistan and it has become hub of masaa-ilistan. I honestly believe, Chief Secretary and Secretaries, by virtue of being heads of the two departments should take responsibity to bring about fundamental changes in the course of how these so called engineers and departments function before the virus of corruption completely destroys the very fabric of society.
The contributor is based in Saudi Arabia. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org