Islamabad: Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan initiated the construction of one of the country’s largest dams on Wednesday to meet water and electricity needs. Diamer Bhasha dam will be the country’s third big dam to be built after Tarbela and Mangla dams. It is a multi-purpose dam that will be used for water storage, flood mitigation, divert water for irrigation and power generation.
PM Imran Khan inaugurates the dam
“Diamer Bhasha dam will be the biggest dam in Pakistan’s history,” PM Imran Khan announced at the launch ceremony in Chilas, adding that the dam will benefit the country both economically and environmentally especially the people of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB). Pakistan Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, Water Resources Minister Faisal Vawda, WAPDA, FWO and other senior officials attended the ceremony.
Generate clean energy, create jobs and irrigate lands
Pakistan is now focusing on clean energy to mitigate the climate change impact. The dual benefits of “generating electricity from water instead of furnace oil or coal” will save the country billions of dollars spent on importing fuel while reducing the negative impact on the environment” the premier noted.
The hydel power project would generate 4,500 MW of affordable, clean energy while boosting local industry and also creating more than 16,000 jobs in the country, said China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Chairman Lt Gen (retd) Asim Saleem Bajwa. The dam’s 6.4MAF (million-acre feet) of water would irrigate at least 1.2 million acres of the agricultural area. Diamer Bhasha dam would increase the country’s storage capacity from 30 to 48 days.
Height of Dam – 272 meters
Spillways – 14 gates
Gross Storage – 8.10 MAF
Live Storage – 6.4 MAF
Installed Capacity – 4500 MW
Cost – Rs1.406 trillion
World’s tallest RCC dam
The reservoir with 272-metre height will be the tallest roller compact concrete (RCC) dam in the world. It will have a spillway with 14 gates and five outlets for flushing out silt. The diversion system involves two tunnels and a diversion canal. It will also include the construction of powerhouses.
Cost and completion
The dam project with a total financial outlay of about Rs1.4 trillion (Dh30 billion) is expected to be completed in 2028, according to Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) chairman retired Lt Gen Muzammil Hussain.
- Create 16,000 jobs
- Irrigate at least 1.2 million acres of agricultural land
- Increase water storage capacity from 30 to 48 days
- Help reduce flood damages
- Store 8.1 million acre-feet (MAF) of water
Contract awarded to joint venture
On May 13, Pakistan signed a deal worth Rs442 billion (US$2.6 billion) with the Chinese state-owned firm China Power to build the dam on River Indus near Chilas in Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The consultancy contract worth Rs27.18 billion has been awarded by WAPDA to Diamer Basha Consultants Group (DBCG) that includes construction design, construction supervision and contract administration of the dam project. The joint venture of DBCG comprises of 12 national and foreign consulting firms including seven from Pakistan, and one firm from each US, UK, China, Turkey and Switzerland with Pakistan’s NESPAK as the lead firm.
When was the dam proposed?
The prime minister regretted that it took the country more than 40 years to finally begin the construction of the Diamer Bhasha dam that was first proposed in 1980. “This will be Pakistan’s third large dam whereas neighbouring China has built nearly 5000 large dams” and more than 80,000 dams in total, he said.
The dam first envisaged in 1980 was approved for construction in 2006 by then military ruler and former president Pervez Musharraf who said “Water and energy are matters of life and death for us. We have to build all dams.”