USAID suspends Daronta dam's rehabilitation
JALALABAD (PAN): The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) on Sunday confirmed it had suspended the rehabilitation of the Daronta Hydroelectric Power Plant in eastern Nangarhar province after the local government failed to honour its pledges.
USAID official Mike Dempsey told reporters in Jalalabad the agency had suspended the $11 million project for giving a structural boost to the Soviet-built dam after Governor Gul Agha Sherzai failed to finance the 10 percent of the total cost under an agreement to the effect.
He said USAID signed the contract with a firm last year when Sherzai agreed to contribute 10 percent of the total cost, but failed to do so over the last six months.
He said the money USAID had granted for the scheme had been sent back to the main office in Kabul, where it would be incorporated into the central government's budget. The official said he did not know if the returned money would be used for the dam's rehabilitation
But the governor's house rejected Dempsey claims that it had violated the agreement, saying the provincial administration was ready to pay the amount.
Gubernatorial spokesman Ahmad Zia Abdulzai told Pajhwok Afghan News Governor Sherzai remained firm on his promise, insisting he had not been informed about the launch of work on the dam's reconstruction
Meanwhile, the USAID said recent discussions between senior Afghan and US officials had confirmed the desire to move more infrastructure projects on-budget for implementation by Afghan institutions.
They agreed to move more funding into the Afghan Infrastructure Trust Fund (AITF), a multi-donor fund managed by the Asian Development Bank, the statement said, explaining the USAID has agreed, in principle, to move the funds for Daronta Dam into the AITF to finance power infrastructure projects.
"The decision about if and when to implement work on Daronta Dam will be made in consultation with DABS and the Afghan government based on overall funding available and Afghan power infrastructure priorities," it concluded.
Constructed by former USSR companies in the early 1960’s, Daronta Dam contains three vertical Kaplan (6-blade propeller) units with rated output of 3.85 MW each.
Originally, the dam supplied 40 to 45 megawatts of electrical power but silting and damage to the system during the civil war reduced its actual output to 11.5 megawatts. The plant requires major rehabilitation, including possible replacement of turbines
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