Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Who will finance Angat Dam rehab?

MALOLOS CITY—Questions on who will finance the long delayed P5.7-Billion rehabilitation of the giant Angat Dam in Bulacan have re-emerged days after a magnitude 7.2 earthquake hit Bohol province in the Visayas.

This came as the National Power Corporation (Napocor) which manages the dam said they still have to receive a copy of the contract signed by the Korea Water Resources Corporation (K-Water) and the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (Psalm).

Even the provincial government led by Gov. Wilhelmino Alvarado is asking for a copy of the said contract noting that Bulakenyos are alarmed by the recent earthquake in Bohol.

“We have reasons to be afraid,” the governor said referring to about 3-Million Bulakenyos and added that in case Angat Dam is damaged by earthquake, Bulakenyos will suffer first.

This is due to possible rush of water from the dam to the Angat River, which was described  to reach up to 30 meters high based on feasibility study conducted by Tonkin and Taylor International about two years ago.

The said study noted that 20 towns and cities in Bulacan will be affected, along with seven towns in Pampanga, and three cities in Metro Manila.

Malacanang took notice of the said scenario and allocated a total of P5.7-B for the remediation of the  Angat Dam, of which, P2.6-B is said to be utilized for installation of  new instruments, while the remaining P3.1 me is intended for the actual rehabilitation.
Napocor's Sta. Rita, Vice-Gov. Fernando and Gov. Alvarado.
But a complication came late last year, when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of K-Water as the winning bidder in the privatization of the 246 megawatt Angat River Hydroelectric Power Plant.

According to Architect Gerardo Esquivel, administrator of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), part of the  K-Water’s bid contract affirmed by the SC stipulates that it winning bidder will spent money for the rehabilitation of the dam.

The same is the interpretation of ranking Napocor officials like Engineer Rodolfo German of the Arhepp.

He even said in a recent interview that K-Water will also spend an undisclosed amount for the repair and replacement of existing power generating machines of the Arhepp.

However, Napocor President Gladys Sta. Rita said they still to see the copy of the contract between K-Water and Psalm.

She also disclosed that the Philippine government is looking at the possibilities of setting aside the P3.1-B rehabilitation fund thinking that the Koreans will shoulder it once they assume  operation and management of the Arhepp.

While it is not clear who will now finance the rehabilitation and remediation of the Angat dam, millions of Bulakenyos led by Alvarado are living in fear.

“Nakakapangamba ang sitwasyon, nakaamba yung Marikina West Valley Faultline sa Angat Dam na hanggang ngayon ay hindi pa nasisimulan ang repair,  eh, paano kung gumalaw ang faultline at masira ang dam, eh di tayo ang mapipinsalan,” the governor said..

Alvarado said that Tuesday’s earthquake in Bohol is another wake up call for every concerned government agencies to fast track the repair of the Angat Dam.

Local residents estimates claimed that in case of dam break, about a million Bulakenyos will be killed in the first three hours of the water rush from the dam.

But prolong damage and impact will be in Metro Manila which is dependent on Angat Dam for potable water supply.  Dino Balabo

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