PM Shehbaz sets ‘miracle’ target for Bhasha Dam completion

Inspects construction work: Asks Wapda to complete dam by 2026 instead of 2029: Announces construction of 13km-long Babusar Top tunnel

By: News Desk
Published: 10:17 AM, 17 Apr, 2022
PM Shehbaz sets ‘miracle’ target for Bhasha Dam completion
Caption: TV grab.
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Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has ordered early completion of Diamer-Bhasha Dam on Indus River near Chilas, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.

Prime Minister Shehbaz visited Diamer-Bhasha Dam on Sunday. Wapda Chairman Lt Gen ® Muzammil Hussain gave briefing to the PM and his team on the ongoing construction work on Diamer Bhasha Dam.

Shehbaz said they had to think about setting up mega energy projects in the face of rising energy demand. He said Diamer-Bhasha Dam was pivotal for the spur of economic growth of the country. 

He maintained billions of rupees had been spent on this project and demanded swift execution of the dam. He gave a new target to Wapda for completion of the project by 2026 instead of its stipulated execution time by 2029. He said nothing was impossible in this world.

The prime minister stressed that the project would give a thrust to the irrigation and agriculture sectors. He said we needed a large amount of water for our crops. He underlined the need to store large quantity of rain water which otherwise moved to sea and got wasted. 

He said that the PML-N government in 1998 provided funds for the purchase of land for dam and its previous premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi pushed the project during his stint in 2018. 

Shehbaz also felt the need to establish a hospital in Chilas. Besides this, he also announced construction of a 1,300-km long tunnel to improve communication means in the city. He said construction of Babusar Top tunnel will ensure year’s round traffic flow and asked the authorities to submit a study report to his office.

Shehbaz said that completion of Diamer-Bhasha dam would serve as future lifeline for country’s economy, augmenting the power generation, besides boosting agriculture activities. He said 4500 MW project was of immense importance for the country’s economy and stressed that it should be completed ahead of its construction time line of the year 2029. “I insist to go ahead of its timeline of 2029 and complete it by 2026-27. It will be a miracle, if we achieve it. Nothing is impossible in this world. We can achieve it if we advance in unison,” he added.

Shehbaz said the project was initiated by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif during 2016 and funds were provided by the PML-N government for the land acquisition. He said it was a gigantic task and assured all-out support from the federal government to complete the project as early as possible.

He also suggested for encouraging the international investors for future fund raising.

The prime minister said that what happened during last four years was unfortunate. He said early construction of the dam would be a good omen and a milestone in the country’s history. 

Shehbaz regretted that out of 125-130MAF water, they were only saving and utilizing 25-30MAF water annually. He observed it would be a big success, if they saved water and mentioned that Diamer-Bhasha Dam would play a vital role in water storage capacity. It would save Tarbella Dam from deposits of sediments and enhance its life span by 35 years, he added.

The dam would control flash floods, enhance agricultural productivity, besides create jobs opportunities in the area, leading to economic prosperity, he added.

Shehbaz said he would not go into the past four years, but what happened with power sector was indeed an injustice with the nation. Despite a power generation capacity of about 6000-7000MW, the gas fired and oil run power plants had been shut, he added.

As a Khadim-e-Pakistan, he would not lie before the nation or twist truth, but facts should come forward. 

He said the area lacked health facilities. He as chief minister of Punjab had donated a scanning machine for Gilgit.

He directed the authorities concerned to submit a report within a week for construction of fully equipped hospital in the area to provide latest health facilities to local population.

PML-N senior leaders Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Khawaja Asif and PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb accompanied the prime minister to the Diamir Bhasha dam site.

Wapda Chairman said that the project was facing numerous challenges. However, the project after its completion would generate 16,000 job opportunities as numerous other programmes worth Rs2.6 trillion were being initiated, he added.  .

The chairman said that the dam would enhance power production in the country, besides ensuring food security. 

The dam is a joint venture of China Power and Frontier Works Organisation (FWO). 

Dam to be completed by 2029

Diamer Bhasha Dam having storage capacity of 8.1 Million Acre Feet (MAF) will generate 18,100 Gigawatt hours (GWh) power annually after completion by April, 2029, official source said.

The installed capacity of Diamer Bhasha Dam will be 4,500 Mega Watt (MW) and live storage capacity of 6.4 MAF.

Diamer Bhasha Dam is being constructed on River Indus – 40-kilometer downstream of Chilas town. The project is of paramount importance for water, food and energy security of the country.

The total estimated cost of Diamer Bhasha Dam project is Rs1406,122 million which includes PC-I (acquisition of land & resettlement Rs175,436 million, PC-I (Dam Part Rs479,686 million while cost for PC-I (Power Generation Facilities yet to be approved) is Rs751,000 million.

Similarly, the amount spent by previous governments on the Dam is Rs86,685 million under acquisition of land & resettlement (AL&R) since 2009-10 while present government has spent Rs30273 million under AL&R and Rs51555 million under dam part. The total amount of Rs116,158 million has been spent under AL&R and Rs51,555 million under dam part.

The source further revealed that present government which is giving priority to completion of mega power projects and had earmarked Rs15,500 million for Dam Part and Rs7,000 million for AL&R during fiscal year 2020-21.

The government has so far acquired 32,073 acres of land for important Diamer Bhasha Dam project would meet growing water and power needs of the country.

The acquired land is around 90 percent of total required 35,924 acres of land for the project.