NEDA approves additional P8.48B for Jalaur mega dam

The Jalaur Afterbay Dam, one of the three dams of JRMP II in Calinog, Iloilo, now substantially completed according to NIA-6. (JNH/PIA photo)

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) has approved the loan restructuring worth P8.48 billion for the completion of the Jalaur River Multipurpose Project Stage II (JRMP II) in Calinog, Iloilo province.

During the NEDA Board meeting chaired by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on July 19, the board approved the modifications for the JRMP II involving the extension of project implementation period, loan validity, and increase in project cost, among others.

The JRMP II is one of the 194 identified priority infrastructure projects under the ‘Build Better More’ (BBM) program of the government that has an initial budget of P11.2 billion, which came from a loan of P8.9 billion from the Export-Import Bank of Korea and a counterpart of P2.3 billion from the national government.

National Irrigation Administration (NIA)-6 spokesperson Steve Cordero also said that the project’s contractor, Daewoo Engineering and Construction Co. Ltd., requested for an increase in project costs as foreign exchange trend, taxes, custom duties, and inflation hoes affected the cost of materials and labor, among others.

Cordero added that the construction of JRMP II would be completed by September 2024, but the mega dam’s full operation may start late in 2024 or by the

first quarter of 2025, citing that some irrigation components may not be completed yet this year.

He previously revealed that they asked for a time extension due to the challenges brought by the weather condition and the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID)-19 pandemic. The original timetable for completion of the project was December 2023, including irrigation dams, flood control systems, and hydropower plants in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th districts of the province.

The construction activities for JRMP II commenced on April 10, 2019, few months before the COVID-19 pandemic that affected movements of people and goods globally.

Meanwhile, during the meeting of the Infrastructure Development Committee (IDC) of the Regional Development Council on July 31, JRMP II Project Management Office Manager Jonel Borres reported that the physical accomplishment of the project is already at 68.56 percent as of July 2023.

Borres said that the Alibunan River Catch Dam and Jalaur Afterbay Dam, which will provide irrigation water to farmlands in Zone 1 of the project and regulate water from the impounding dam to the High Line Canal once operational, are already considered “substantially completed.”

He also noted that the construction of the Jalaur High Dam, which will serve as an impounding dam with an estimated capacity of 250.70 million cubic meters for irrigation and bulk water supply once completed, is “nearing substantial completion” as it already reached 99 meters out of its structural height of 109 meters.

While the construction of the 81-kilometer-high line canal, the main conveyance structure of JRMP II, is already at 60.75 percent or 49.05 kilometers (km) out of the 80.736km designed length.

The JRMP II is expected to provide irrigation to 31,840 hectares of farmland in Iloilo; generate 6.6 megawatts of hydroelectric power, 86 million liters per day of bulk water supply for the province and city of Iloilo; generate eco-cultural tourism opportunities; and will mitigate flooding in Calinog and nearby towns once completed.

The JRMP II will likewise augment irrigation water to the five existing National Irrigation Systems (NIS) with a combined service area of 22,340 hectares and 18,000 farmer-beneficiaries.

NIA-6 stressed that the JRMP II is projected to expand the production areas of sugarcane and other crops, and will increase the annual production of rice in Iloilo to around 338, 874 metric tons (MT), which is 71.54 percent higher from its current production of 197,545 MT. (PIA)