ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan will visit Diamer- Bhasha Dam project next week to review construction activities as work on the project has commenced.
According to Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA), Diamer Bhasha Dam, a vital project for water, food and energy security of Pakistan, is being constructed on River Indus, 315 Kilometer (Km) upstream of Tarbela Dam, 180 Km downstream of Gilgit, and 40 Km downstream of Chilas town.
Earlier, The prime minister had ordered to commence work at the earliest to address the worsening water crisis in the country.
The prime minister said the dam will help meet the increasing agriculture and energy requirements, create jobs and even boost local industries.
CPEC Authority Chairman Asim Bajwa, who also serves as the PM’s aide on information, hailed the historic decision and said it will benefit future generations for a long time.
The project is scheduled to be completed in 2028-29. The project was flawed by a delay of decades due to various contributing factors.
However, the PTI government realigned the project prioritizing the water and hydropower sectors in its development strategy, according to a Wapda statement.
Following prompt decision-making by the government and an innovative financial plan by Wapda to arrange funds for the construction of the project with the meager burden on the national exchequer, the dam is, at last going to see the light of the day.
Diamer-Bhasha Dam is the second mega multi-purpose dam that has been commenced in about a year. The project has three core objectives – water storage for agriculture, flood mitigation and hydel power generation.
The dam will have a gross water storage capacity of 8.1 million acre-feet (MAF) to irrigate 1.23 million acres of additional land.
The project with an installed power generation capacity of 4,500 megawatts (MW) will provide more than 18 billion units per annum to the national grid.
Construction of this dam will also have a positive impact on the annual energy generation of the existing hydel power stations including Tarbela, Ghazi Brotha, etc. that will increase by another 2.5 billion units.
In view of its benefits, Diamer Basha Dam Project will go a long way towards stabilizing the economy. Commencement of Diamer-Bhasha Dam has proved a good omen for the locals, as Rs78.5 billion is being spent on various schemes as confidence-building steps (CBMs) in the project area.
The idea of Diamer-Bhasa Dam was first floated in the 1980s but failed to receive political consensus. It was raised again during Musharraf’s era but faced controversies and lack of funds.
The project failed to gain funds from global financial institutions and was also not included among CPEC projects. During this time, the cost escalated exponentially and reached a whopping Rs1.4 trillion.
Former Chief Justice Saqib Nisar set up a special fund to collect money for the project. This reinvigorated the national spirit and people from all walks of life made their contributions.
The ex-CJP also made a personal donation of a million rupees while the army contributed a billion rupees. The amount was too large and was never achieved through crowdfunding.
The PTI government has now gained credit for restarting the project. An agreement has been swiftly signed and a contract worth Rs442 billion has been handed over to China Power and FWO.
The project is expected to be completed by 2028 and will generate 16,500 jobs and produce 4,500MW electricity. The megaproject neglected for years is now on the path to realization.