FWO, Nespak, KW&SB and independent expert suggestions
By 2019 it became clear that K-IV was in trouble. Four solutions have surfaced. They are each separately coming from Nespak, the FWO, the water board MD Asadullah Khan and the uninvolved Techno-Consult International (Pvt) Ltd’s director for water and energy, Dr Bashir Lakhani. It is not clear which one will pass government approval.
Nespak argues that we now look for another route and study if the old Kinjhar Gujjo canal has the capacity to be a solution. As anyone can imagine now, this will be a repeat of the entire exercise and will cost more money and more time. In the end, Nespak reached the finding that even though design improvements have been suggested, the route is such that it runs by the foothills of Kirthar and will permanently be vulnerable. It would always, if built, be prone to disruptions in supply. “It is recommended to study an alternate alignment and to examine the capacity of the existing Kinjhar-Gujjo Canal System as mentioned in the approved PC-II (2002) by the Government of Sindh.”
The FWO has, according to a presentation given to CM House, come up with several permutations and combinations. One solution is to build a shorter K-IV just up to 75kms and not the full 121km and then connect that canal to the existing city network. Another suggestion is to widen the 260mgd canal and make it 650mgd. It mixed and matched these two suggestions and factored in the electrical and mechanical works to cough up different price tags.
The water board MD has his own ideas. He wants to dump the route 8 and build K-IV along K-III. It makes far more sense to do it along a tried and tested route where the ground is less hilly as well, he says. He has suggested this to the CM.
The last suggestion is both radical and conservative, but given who it is coming from, it merits serious thought. That person is the man who built and delivered K-III on time, Dr Bashir Lakhani.
The engineering company where he works, Techno-Consult, had lost the bid to build K-IV over costs. Nevertheless, he was familiar with K-IV and it was him who the FWO turned to when it ran into trouble in 2016. Everyone in town referred them to Dr Lakhani, because he really is the hydraulics man.
The FWO took him to the site and he was paid to prepare a review report of what he saw, by 2017. He was already sceptical about route 8, when once, years earlier, he saw a map of it in the KWSB office and incredulously asked the project director at the time, Mashkoor ul Husnain, if he really thought they could build the canal there. He knew the terrain, which was really too hilly to be a good choice for a canal through which water was supposed to run by gravity.
“A gravity canal is built on land that is snug with it,” he says. “It has to have balanced cut and fill.” If you want to understand this, just look at what engineers call a Longitudinal-section or L-section. It shows just how much land you’ll have to dig through because of peaks or fill in the case of dips to run a canal. The best canals are built on flat land otherwise you will always need pumping.
But Dr Lakhani is cognisant of the fact that five billion rupees has been spent on acquiring land, not to mention the money that has gone into the project so far. So, he now recommends salvaging what can be salvaged. We should study just how much of route 8 can take a canal and use a pressurised Mild Steel pipe. “Canals don’t maintain pressure,” he explains. Pipe is more expensive but better. After all, canals and conduits are just one option. The world over people use pipes to transport their water supplies.
He doesn’t agree with other parts of the design. For example, siphons which would help with cross drainage are not desirable because sediment deposits in them at turning points. He prefers aqueducts, which are more expensive but also better.
He is against the suggestion to build a shorter K-IV for 75km, because that would just stop bringing the water to a shorter point and in principle augmentation is always done in the city. He is against the suggestion that we build parallel to K-III because the government may have right of way or land till Pipri but it would not be able to build for the remaining 20km to Karachi. That entire strip, he says, is filled with abadi. Acquiring that land afresh will be another costly headache. Work with the route for which you have already spent a pretty penny.
So I chuckled: You are proposing something more expensive and you want the contract. He seemed to indicate yes, he did.
To read the next article of the series on Karachi’s K-IV water project, click on the image below