Jalaur megadam ready by 2024
ILOILO CITY — A multibillion-peso mega-dam project in Iloilo province’s Calinog town, the biggest outside Luzon, is on schedule for completion by 2023 despite the COVID-19 pandemic and a two-week work stoppage due to an outbreak among workers and consultants.
Jonel Borres, acting project manager of the Jalaur Multipurpose Project Stage II (JRMP II), said in an online briefing early this week that the implementation of the project was at 37.83 percent, ahead of its target of 31.72 percent, as of March 31.
The Jalaur megadam project includes three dams, a 6.6-megawatt hydropower plant, and an 81-kilometer high-line canal.
The Korean contractor, Daewoo Engineering and Construction, completed the 310-meter diversion tunnel and 30.21-m upstream cofferdam last year.
Construction is ongoing for other components, including the 109-m-high dam 10.65-m downstream cofferdam.
Work was suspended from April 14 to 28 due to an outbreak at the construction area, when 75 personnel, including Korean consultants, were infected with COVID-19.
Boost to agriculture
The municipal government of Calinog allowed the limited resumption of work from April 29 to May 2 pending the completion of quarantine of those infected. Full operation resumed on May 3.
Borres said the dam was targeted to be operational in the first quarter of 2024, if construction is completed by the summer of 2023.Sen. Franklin Drilon, who initiated the project and was joined the briefing by Senators Francis Pangilinan and Cynthia Villar, said the project completion would be a “game changer” for Western Visayas.
They cited the expected boost in agricultural production because of enhanced and expanded irrigation, increased water, and electric supply. The megadam was expected to produce 86,400 cubic meters of water per day.
Borres said palay production was expected to increase by 141,000 metric tons, or by 71 percent, once the megadam becomes operational. The project is implemented under a $203-million loan agreement with the South Korean government through the Korea Eximbank. The counterpart fund from the Philippine government amounted to P2.2 billion.
Construction began on April 10, 2019, after more than six years of delay. The project was supposed to start in 2013 but it drew opposition from environmental and indigenous peoples groups.
Project opponents have pushed for several small dams instead of a megadam, repeatedly warning of environmental and safety risks.
They have also cited the dislocation of communities of indigenous people, whose villages, farms and ancestral land, including burial sites, will be either submerged or indirectly affected by the construction and operation of the megadam.
The National Irrigation Administration has given assurance of the safety of the megadam project and has promised affected residents relocation and livelihood assistance.
A 19-hectare relocation and housing site would be provided for the affected residents, according to Borres.
—NESTOR P. BURGOS JR.
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