Diamer Bhasha Dam A Game Changer Project In Country's Energy Arena

Diamer Bhasha Dam with gross water storage capacity of 8.1 million acre feet (MAF) and power generation capacity of 4500 mega watt (MW) will go a long way in stabilizing the economy.

Diamer Bhasha Dam A Game Changer Project In Country's Energy Arena

Since its inception in August 2018, the incumbent government remained focused on harnessing water and hydropower potential to ensure water security by enhancing the water storage capacity and achieve self-sufficiency in the energy sector, putting the country on consistent path of progress and prosperity.

Under the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan, after kicking off physical work of the much-delayed Mohmand Dam in May 2019, the government also started strategically important mega project Diamer Bhasha dam in July this year.

Diamer Basha Dam Project, with a total financial outlay of about Rs 1406.5 billion would be completed by 2028.

The conceptual feasibility of this mega and multipurpose Project was carried out from 1980-84 by MONENCO Consultants. World Panel of Experts (IPOE) reviewed the MONENCO Study in 1988. However the past governments completely shifted their focus on expensive private power producers (IPPs) and put this important project on ice burg.

Later, feasibility study was carried out by NEAC Consultants led by NESPAK in 2002-04. Lahmeyer International Germany reviewed the feasibility, detailed engineering design and tender documentation in 2005-08.

Initial PC-I was approved in August-2009 but the Project could not take off on account of non-availability of funds, unresolved resettlement issues, and unresolved boundary dispute between Harban tribe of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Thor tribe of Gilgit Baltistan (GB).

Groundbreaking of the Project was also carried out twice by the President General Pervaiz Musharraf on April 26, 2006 and the then Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani on October 18, 2011 with out arranging funding for the project.

However, cognizant of the importance of the project and its long lasting benefits to the entire country, the present Government removed all bottle necks, re-aligned the policy, resolved the resettlement issue, had an amicable agreement between tribesmen, pushed procurement process and released funds for its execution.

The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) approved the Revised PC-I for Land & Resettlement on April 30, 2020 paving the way for execution of the Project.

The incumbent Government released Rs. 59 billion for the Dam and Resettlement during fiscal year 2019-2020 leading to timely mobilization of both the Contractors and the Consultants for construction of the Project.

WAPDA is injecting huge amount of Rs. 176 billion as Equity for the Project.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has witnessed construction activities twice during his visits to the Project in July and November 2020 since commencement of construction on the Project.

It reflects significance, the present Government attaches to this Super Mega Project.

Diamer Basha Dam with gross water storage capacity of 8.1 million acre feet (MAF) and power generation capacity of 4500 mega watt (MW) will go a long way in stabilizing the economy. Construction of the project will also enhance life of Tarbela Dam by 35 years.

The project will also prove to be instrumental in developing the human resources and creating employment opportunity in the country. As many as 16,500 job opportunities of engineers and allied staff will be made available at the national and local levels. WAPDA would spend Rs 78 billion on CBMs in the project area for economic and social uplfit.

According to former Minister for Water Resources, Faisal Vawda the project would change the destiny of the country.

He said the ministry was executing projects worth Rs 1.1 trillion and its credit went to the Prime Minister and entire team water resources ministry.

The government has earmarked a total of Rs 182,963 million for ongoing hydel, other water sector projects and new schemes under Annual Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) 2020-21.

According to Chairman Water and Power Development Authority Lt Gen (R) Muzammil Hussain an innovative financial strategy for funding of this mega project had already been finalized with minimum reliance on national exchequer. Accordingly, the government would provide 30 per cent share while remaining 70 per cent fund would be arranged by WAPDA, he said.

He said in past such mega projects could not be started for decades due to various issues but the present government had practically launched these strategically important projects by overcoming these issues with concerted efforts.

Appreciating the, Supreme Court Implementation Bench, armed forces and Water Resources Ministry for extending their support to launch mega projects after decade, the Chairman said last year Mohmand dam project was started after 54 years and this year physical work has been started on Diamer Basha dam.

Muzammil Hussain said Diamer Basha project was stuck up for the last 15 years due to a bunch of issues. However, due to concerted efforts of the government, these issues had been resolved, he added.

He said that Diamer Bhasha Dam was a phenomenal project to ensure water, food and energy security in Pakistan.

Diamer Bhasha Dam Project would stimulate economic activities in the far-flung and backward areas of Gilgit-Baltistan, providing as many as 16,550 job opportunities to the locals and Pakistani engineers.

Construction of the dam would help bring as many as 1.23 million acres of additional land under cultivation, following which annual agricultural benefits of the project had been estimated at Rs. 279 billion.

Originally published at Urdu point