The Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR) is stepping up plans to build and rehabilitate dams across the country with consultants working on several projects, bids being evaluated and tenders due out imminently. The programme aims to improve irrigation and increase power generating capacity.The biggest project is the estimated $2,100 million completion of Bekhme dam located on the Greater Zab river in Irbil province, about 50 kilometres from Shaqlawa. The scheme, which is about 35 per cent complete, will comprise the construction of a 230-metre-high rockfill dam with power capacity of 1,536 MW. ITSC, a company made up of British and Serbian consultantswith Switzerland’s Stuckyis evaluating work already completed before 1991 and undertaking an environ-mental impact study. Work is expected to be completed by December. In late September, Water Resources Minister Abdul Latif Jamal Rasheed appealed to international companies to participate in the project. Baghdad has already approached the World Bank and international financial institutions to provide funding. The government has set aside $900 million for the scheme. It is also considering carrying out the project on a build-operate-transfer (BOT) basis. Yugoslavia’s Energoprojektprepared the original detailed designs prior to the first Gulf War in 1991. A team of Turkey’s Enkaand Yugoslavia’s Hidrogradnjawas awarded the original construction contract. The Bekhme dam is one of nine large projects under the supervision of the ministry. With each one valued at upwards of $500 million, the programme has attracted a great deal of interest from consultancy firms. Those which are understood to be actively looking at the dam projects include: Coyne & Bellierand Sogreah, both of France; Italy’s C Lotti & Associati; Sweden’s SWECO International; Germany’s Lahmeyer International; Halcrow, Black & Veatchand Scott Wilson, all of the UK; Colencoof Switzerland; and CH2M Hilland MWHof the US. Consultancy bids are under evaluation for: the 112-metre-high, 42-MW capacity Khazir-Gomel dam, on the Khazir, a tributary of the Greater Zab river; the 88-metre-high, 620-MW Mandawa dam, also on the Greater Zab; and the 43-metre-high Shandla dam, southeast of Doukan. Consultants have also been invited to bid by 1 November for the partly finished Badush dam, 15 kilometres northwest of Mosul on the river Dajla. The 40-metre-high dam will have capacity of 180 MW. ITSC is also expected to complete designs by February 2006 for the 100-metre high Taq Taq dam, located on the Lesser Zab river, which will have 400 MW of capacity.