Dubai: Pakistan has signed a contract to start construction on the long-halted dam project in a bid to solve the country’s water and electricity shortage.
The government on Wednesday signed Rs442 billion contract with a joint venture of China Power and Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) for the construction of the Diamer-Bhasha Dam. The dam, with a huge reservoir, is located on the Indus River, in the Diamer district of Pakistan’s Gilgit-Baltistan province, approximately 315km upstream of the Tarbela Dam and 40km downstream of the Chilas town.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Lt Gen (retired) Asim Saleem Bajwa called the announcement a historic news.
“Announcing to start construction of Diamer-Bhasha dam today is historic news for all generations of Pakistan. A huge stimulus for our economy, [will] create 16,500 jobs, generate 4,500MW hydel power and irrigate 1.2m acres agri land, enhance Tarbela dam’s age by 35 years,” he tweeted.
The Chinese state-run firm holds 70 per cent and the FWO, a commercial arm of the Armed Forces of Pakistan, 30pc share in the consortium. The agreement was signed by the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA), according to the APP.
Pakistan Prime Minister’s office tweeted: “Pakistan is one of the most affected countries facing water crisis. To ensure national water security, the government has started work on long halted Dam Projects, which will contribute to solving the water crisis, provide cheap electricity, and boost agriculture.”
Diamer- Bhasha Dam Chief Executive Officer Amir Bashir Chaudhry and a representative of the Chinese consortium Yang Jiandu, signed the agreement on behalf of WAPDA and the Joint Venture respectively.
Addressing the ceremony, Water Resources Federal Minister Muhammad Faisal Vawda said that the construction of Diamer- Bhasha Dam would commence in a few weeks. He said that it was a phenomenal project to ensure water, food and energy security in Pakistan.
Inaugurated last year
Dilating upon the developments of water sector by the incumbent federal government, the minister said after Mohmand Dam, which was inaugurated by the prime minister in May last year, Diamer- Bhasha was the second mega multi-purpose dam that was to be started in a span of just one year which was unprecedented in Pakistan’s history.
Speaking on the occasion, WAPDA Chairman Lt Gen Muzammil Hussain (Retd) said Diamer-Bhasha Dam would go a long way for economic development and social uplift of the country.
He reiterated that WAPDA was committed to completing this mega project in accordance with the time lines to cope with the increasing water and electricity requirement in the country. Diamer-Bhasha Dam Project, with a total financial outlay of about Rs1406.5 billion will be completed in 2028.
The total financial outlay includes land acquisition and resettlement, confidence-building measures for social uplift of the locals, construction of dam and powerhouses. The project has a gross storage capacity of 8.1 million acre feet (MAF) and power generation capacity of 4500 megawatt (MW), with annual generation of 18.1 billion units per annum, he added.
Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing, Pakistan Army Engineer-in-Chief Lt Gen Moazzam Ejaz and Power China Chairman Yan Zhi Yong also expressed their views on the occasion.
The project is designed to serve as the main storage dam of the country, besides Mangla and Tarbela dams, and its storage would be helpful for alleviating flood losses.
The project is estimated to help alleviate acute irrigation shortage in the Indus basin irrigation system caused by progressive siltation of the existing reservoirs, besides substantially contributing to reduce intensity, quantum and duration of floods and reduce magnitude and frequency of floods in the River Indus downstream.