After a delay of almost 25 years, Diamer-Bhasha dam has finally been cleared for funding by Central Development Working Party (CDWP). CDWP has forwarded the project to Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC) and the project is now awaiting a final approval. The dam will be the first major reservoir that will be built since the 1960s.
The reservoir will be built at an initial cost of Rs 625 billion, excluding the electricity generation part of the project.
Sartaj Aziz Planning Commission Deputy Chairman says that a sum of Rs 303 billion has also been proposed by CDWP and is awaiting ECNEC’s approval for the construction of Mohmand Dam Hydropower project. Mohmand Dam will have the capacity to generate 800 megawatts of electricity.
The project faced many delays due to funding and ownership issues between provinces. The government even proposed to include it in CPEC projects. However, later withdrew the request due to China’s demand of ownership of the dam.
Pakistan went to Asian Development Bank and World Bank as well but due to several reasons, including Indian opposition to the project, both organizations refused to fund the project.
This time, Pakistan has decided to fund the major portion of the project from the budget.
Cost of the Project
Diamer-Bhasha dam will be built at a cost of Rs 625 billion. If the government later decides to add electricity generation capability to this dam, then the total cost will rise to Rs 1.4 trillion.
The government will release 48 billion annually from the budget to fund the project. Out of the total cost of the project, the government will cover 57% of the cost that is Rs 370.2 billion. Rs 163.3 billion will be borrowed in commercial loans. The rest, Rs 115.9 billion, will be covered by the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA).
Rs 138 billion will be allocated for land acquisition and resettlement. Authorities have already spent Rs 58.3 billion for land acquisition. Out of this budget, Rs 53.5 billion will be spent on resettlement.
Karakoram Highway will also be relocated as some parts of it will come under water once the dam is built. Rs 56.9 billion have been allocated for the relocation of this highway. A total of Rs 269 billion has been allocated for all civil works. WAPDA will look after the smooth flow of things, including the timely completion of the dam and highway relocation.
Benefits of the Project
Both projects, Mohmand Dam Hydropower project and Diamer-Bhasha Water Reservoir, will help solve the problems of water storage and electricity shortfall that Pakistan has been facing for so long. Combined, the projects will be built at a total cost of Rs 928 billion (excluding electricity generation part of the Dimaer-Bhasha Dam).
Once completed, the Diamer-Bhasha dam’s power generation unit will add 4,500 megawatts of electricity to the national grid. The reservoir will also increase the national water storage capability from 30 days to 48 days.