ISLAMABAD: The Japanese government has agreed to provide grants worth Rs3.4 billion to Pakistan for improving water supply systems in Lahore and Faisalabad.

Bilateral agreements pertaining to two projects in energy saving in water supply system in Lahore and the replacement of pumping machinery at inline booster pumping station and terminal reservoir in Faisalabad were signed here on Thursday.

Ambassador of Japan Hiroshi Inomata and Secretary of Economic Affairs Division Saleem Sethi signed the agreement on behalf of their respective governments here on Thursday.

Grant agreements on the details of implementation of these projects were also signed by Chief Representative of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Mitsuyoshi Kawasaki and Joint Secretary, Economic Affairs Division, Syed Mujtaba Hussain on the occasion.

The project in Lahore will contribute to energy saving of the water supply facilities and restoration of water production capacity through replacement of pumping equipment.

According to project details, 105 deteriorated underground water pumps will be replaced with the latest pumps, and in order to improve proper operation and maintenance of tube wells, energy audit instruments will be introduced.

Both steps will have a synergetic effect on lowering the high energy cost for Water and Sanitation Agency (WASA) Lahore.

The agreement for detailed design of the project was signed early this year while funding for actual construction in the project was agreed upon.

Under the project in Faisalabad, aged pumps will be renewed and the efficiency of the pump station and reservoir, which were previously installed under the assistance of Asian Development Bank, will be improved. By doing so, the project is expected to reduce electricity cost and increase daily maximum water supply.

Over the decade, Japan has been focusing its assistance worth Rs5.5bn in total on improving water supply and sewerage in Faisalabad and improving capacity of WASA Faisalabad so that this city would be a model of advancement in the country.

The Japanese government committed in November 2013 that it would provide Rs1.4 trillion of public and private finance over a period of three years from 2013 to 2015 to developing countries, which include Pakistan, to counter climate change. The two projects signed on Thursday formed part of this commitment.

Published in Dawn, June 19th, 2015