Bhasha Dam, yet to find funds for its construction
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December 16, 2011
The government may face another set blow in generating funds for construction of Diamer Bhasha dam as Asian Development Bank (ADB) has asked government to conduct revised studies on its environmental impact and resettlement plans.

Three issues may prove to be major hurdles in kicking off the work on the project that include boundry dispute between Khyberpukhtanwa and Gilgat Biltistan. GB has recently passed a resolution against KP over boundry dispute. The boundry dispute resolution is essential to determine the rights of these two provinces over royalty share.

Diamir Bhasha Dam has the capacity of 8 Million Acre Feet (MAF) water and power generation capacity of 4500 MW would help bring industrial and agriculture revolution in the country besides creating thousands of job opportunities. There is no second opinion about this that Dia Mir Bhasha Dam was a major development because no mega projects were taken up during the last forty years. Diamir Bhasha Dam would also increase the life of Tarbela dam for another 35 years because the downstream silting would be reduced to a considerable extent.

The project would recover the entire cost within seven years and produce electricity worth two billion dollars annually besides creating sufficient water storage capacity for the agriculture to irrigate 2 million acres of land in the country. It is easy to imagine the boost the agriculture sector would get when two million acres of land would be irrigated.

The ground breaking ceremony of the Project had already been held in October this year along with its earlier approval by the Council of Common Interests gave the requisite confidence to international financial institutions that there was no going back.The project would not only add 4500 MW of power to the national grid but would also prove to be a lifeline for the agriculture and industrial sectors. Prime Minister has also issued direction to the Ministry of Finance for releasing one hundred million dollars to National Highway Authority for the widening and improvement of the KKH from Tha Kot to the site of the Bhasha Dam as it has fundamental importance because in absence of infrastructure, the heavy machinery for the project cannot be transported to the site. There was at present sufficient water in the water reservoirs required for the power generation and for irrigation purposes of Rabi crops. At present, water reservoirs are filled with six million MAF water, which is almost double the water available during the last ten years. In the last ten years water reservoirs stood at an average 3.5 million MAF which resulted in less power generation and water available for irrigation, adversely affecting the agriculture and industrial sectors.

It is a set back to the government that has already conducted studies on environmental impacts and resettlement plans. These studies would take further time that could delay the implementation of the projects. There are reports that GB is planning to pursue case of boundry dispute in Supreme Court against KP, a move that would further create problems to go ahead on the project. So, the fears are that whether this project will also turn into another Kalabagh dam due to tussle between KP and GB despite the fact Council of Common Interest had also approved it.

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