World Bank Gives Approval for $188 Million Loan for Pakistan

Approval has been granted by the World Bank for a $188 million loan for Pakistan in order to improve the safety and reliability of the Guddu Barrage, which will extend the life of this project for another 50 years. The loan was approved by the Washington-based lending agency under the Sindh Barrages Improvement Project focused at rehabilitating and strengthening the deteriorating structure of the Guddu barrage. A total of $208 million will be invested in this project by the country and domestic resources will be mobilized for obtaining the remaining $20 million.

The low-interest and grant arm of the World Bank, the International Development Association (IDA) will finance the credit. The loan will follow standard terms of the IDA, which includes maturity of 25 years and a 5-year grace period. On Saturday, the WB’s country office issued a handout, in which it said that the rehabilitation work of the Guddu barrage will give another fifty years of life to the structure by potentially eliminating sources of failure.

A huge emphasis is being placed by Pakistan on improving its management of water resources and modernizing the ageing hydraulic infrastructure for closing the gap between water demand and water supply. Sustained economic development is only possible through the contribution of the water sector. The World Bank has compiled some statistics, which indicate that the total investment value of Pakistan’s drainage and irrigation system is worth $300 billion. This system provides employment to about 43% of the population and it accounts for one-fourth or $16 billion of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country.

The primary purpose of the gated Guddu Barrage is to irrigate about one million hectare of agricultural land by feeding the main canals of Desert Pat Feeder and Beghari Sindh Feeder on the right side whereas on the left side is the Ghotki Feeder. Flood management and river control are two other purposes served by the barrage. Apart from that, the barrage provides the thermal power station at Guddu with cooling water and is an important link of transportation through the Indus River.

Specialized experience, expertise, continuity of operation and decision making is needed for the continued management and operation of barrages, according to Pakistan’s World Bank Country Director Richard Benmessaoud. He said that the project will not only rehabilitate the barrage infrastructure physically, but also assist the Sindh government in technical assistance and training in financial, procurement, environmental and social safeguards for the operation of hydraulic irrigation infrastructure. The gate replacement work will be supported by the project for improving the flow and regulation of the barrage.

Replacement of 25 main canal head regulator gates, 65 main barrage steel gates, hoist gears and all electrical and mechanical equipment will be conducted. The independent Panel of Experts will also be financed by this project, who will be responsible for monitoring, evaluating, guiding and reviewing the rehabilitation process dealing with the safety of the barrage. The task team leader of the Guddu Barrage project, Abdulhamid Azad said that the structural ability and effective operation of the Guddu Barrage are essential for avoiding potential disaster in floods and for agricultural production.

Around 2.6 million people will benefit from the project, which will irrigate land in Ghotki, Sukkur, Kashmore, Jacobabad and Shikarpur districts of Sindh and Jafarabad and Nasirabad districts of Balochistan and provide them with a reliable supply of water. The improved structure of the Guddu barrage will enhance the capacity of the barrage to pass flood waters and this will aid in reducing the risk of embankment breaches and mitigating the impact of floods in the area as well. 

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