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CONTROVERSIAL PROJECT

P11.2-B Iloilo megadam construction to start after 6-year delay

ILOILO CITY—The construction of an P11.2-billion megadam project in Iloilo province is set to start early next year after a more than six-year delay.

Korean contractor Daewoo Engineering & Construction Co. Ltd. has started mobilizing equipment and preparing its facilities for the start of construction, according to the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) in Western Visayas.

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The NIA had issued a notice to proceed to the contractor after the Korea Export-Import Bank (Eximbank) approved the contract between the NIA and Daewoo for the construction of the Jalaur River Multipurpose Project Phase II at Calinog town in Iloilo.

South Korean loan

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The NIA had awarded the contract to Daewoo and construction was expected to be completed in 46 months.

Funding for the project is from a P9-billion loan from the South Korean government through the Korea Eximbank. The Philippine government provided P2.2 billion in counterpart funds.

When completed, the megadam would be the biggest outside Luzon.

The project features three dams (reservoir, after bay and catch dams), a 6.6-megawatt hydro power plant and an 81-kilometer high line canal.

It was initiated during the administration of former President Benigno Aquino III and was the second of a two-stage project aimed at tapping water from the Jalaur River, one of the major rivers of Panay.

“The long wait is over,” said Sen. Franklin Drilon, an Ilonggo and main project proponent.

“Despite the delays, we will soon see one of the biggest dams in the country being constructed right in Iloilo,” Drilon said.

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He said the dam would help improve Iloilo’s economy and ecotourism industry, and generate jobs for the province’s people.

Opposition from environmental and indigenous peoples groups and legal disputes had stalled the project.

17,000 jobs

Proponents of the project had claimed that the dam would create at least 17,000 jobs during the construction stage, provide irrigation to farmers and address Iloilo’s potable water supply problems.

But opponents have repeatedly warned of environmental and safety risks.

They also cited the dislocation of indigenous peoples communities. Farms and ancestral lands would be submerged.

The critics of the project had proposed the construction of smaller dams instead of a megadam.

The NIA and other government agencies have said they were providing help, including relocation sites for the affected communities.

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TAGS: Daewoo Engineering & Construction Co. Ltd., Iloilo megadam project, National Irrigation Administration, NIA
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