Pakistan’s prime minister also seeks speedy commencement of work on Dasu Dam, Sindh Barrage
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday directed officials concerned to immediately start construction on the Diamer-Bhasha Dam after being informed that all issues related to its establishment, including settlement and mobilization of financial resources, had been resolved.
Chairing a meeting in Islamabad on the national water security strategy and construction of dams to meet agricultural and energy needs, Khan was briefed in detail on the delays that have plagued construction of the Diamer-Bhasha Dam. The briefing claimed that the dam’s construction would create 16,500 jobs and utilize large quantities of cement and steel, boosting the construction-aligned industry. It said that in addition to storing 6.4 Million Acre-Feet of water—which would reduce the current water shortage in the country to 6.1 MAF—the dam would produce 4,500MW of cheap electricity.
The meeting was also informed that the Diamer-Bhasha Dam would add 35 years to the life of Tarbela Dam by reducing sedimentation. It would also allow an additional 1.23 million acres of land to be used for agriculture. Additionally, it would serve to mitigate flooding, potentially saving billions in damages.
According to the briefing, Rs. 78.5 billion would be spent for social development of the area around the Diamer-Bhasha Dam.
Expressing satisfaction over the progress made so far, the prime minister said ensuring water security was the foremost priority of the incumbent government.
He said that construction of dams would help meet the country’s energy requirements at affordable rates, while also allowing for optimum utilization of the available water resources for agricultural needs.
The Diamer-Bhasha dam has been opposed by Sindh and the people of Gilgit, who have claimed would damage the social, economic and ecological balance of the region and inundate 32 villages of the Diamer district, rendering thousands homeless. Many people displaced by previous dams, such as Tarbela and Mangla, have yet to be fully resettled, raising their poverty.
Additionally, there are fears that the site of Diamer-Bhasha Dam contains hundreds of rare stone carvings, sculptures and statues of the Buddha, raising concerns that it could damage our heritage.
Prime Minister Khan directed officials to ensure that local material and expertise is prioritized in the construction of the Diamer-Bhasha Dam to boost employment and construction and its related industries.
The WAPDA chairman briefed the meeting on the progress of Mohmand Dam’s construction, as well as the resolution of issues related to the Dasu Dam. The prime minister expressed satisfaction over the progress thus far, and advised expediting the Dasu project.
The prime minister was also informed that funding had been secured for the Noulong Dam in Balochistan and work on it would commence next year.
Khan said greater effort should be made to commence work on the Sindh Barrage, claiming it would help address the agriculture needs of the province, stop erosion from the sea, and improve drinking water facilities for urban Sindh.
The prime minister appreciated the efforts of Water Resources Ministry and WAPDA in pursuing projects that would help Pakistan achieve self-reliance in food security, industry and exports. He also emphasized that a close watch must be kept on the quality of work and meeting all timelines.
In addition to the prime minister, Water Resources Minister Faisal Vawda, Planning Minister Asad Umar, Information Minister Shibli Faraz, Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit Baltistan Minister Ali Amin Gandapur, Special Assistant to the P.M. on Information Asim Saleem Bajwa, Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) Chairman Muzammil Hussain and various senior officials attended the meeting.