ISLAMABAD: A meeting of the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC) has approved over Rs 96 billion development projects for water and power sector.

The meting presided over by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, however, deferred the projects related to Right Bank Outfall Drainage on the request of the Sindh government to allow it time to firm up views on its contribution for RBOD-II as per the financing plan.

The ECNEC considered and approved the project for a detailed design and construction of Pehur High Level Canal Extension Swabi, at a cost of Rs 10.156 billion. The cost of project also includes loan of US $86.29 million from Asia Development Bank's (ADB).

The project is an extension to the command area of Pehur High Level Canal and draws its supplies through Gandaf Tunnel directly, which gets irrigation water from Tarbela Dam reservoir. The meeting was informed by Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Ahsan Iqbal that the project will bring about 8,727 hectares (1316 hectare in Janda Boka and 7,411 in Indus-Amber area) of rain-fed land under irrigated agriculture. The project will enhance irrigated area and ensure food security due to increase in crop production over the next decade in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The ECNEC also accorded approval for conversion of existing 220KV substations at Bandd Road, Kalashah Kaku, Ravi and Nishatabad (districts Lahore and Faisalabad) to GIS technology at a cost of Rs 5.683 billion. Under the project, conversion of existing 220KV substations from air insulated substations (AIS) to gas insulated substations (GIS) will be undertaken.

The GIS substations will improve efficiency and reliability of the system and result in reduction in erosion and deterioration thereby cutting down maintenance costs and frequent tripping. The power flow will also increase by 684MW in the system. The meeting also approved Kachhi Canal Project (phase-I) at a cost of Rs 80.352 billion. The project aims at development of water and land resources within the less-developed areas of Balochistan, covering districts of Dera Bugti, Naseerabad, Bolan, Kachhi and Jhal Magsi. Kachhi Canal off takes at Taunsa Barrage from River Indus with peak discharge of 6,000 cusecs and will ultimately irrigate an area of 713,000 acres. Under the phase-I of the project, 72,000 acres of land would be irrigated. The project will boost the agriculture production of food grain, fiber and oilseeds. It will also facilitate availability of potable drinking water. Those who attended the meeting included Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal, Federal Minister for Food Security Sikandar Hayat Bosan, provincial ministers and senior officials of federal and provincial governments.