LAHORE: Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) Chairman Raghib Shah has said that water sector projects are vital for sustained economic development, poverty reduction and social uplift in Pakistan, particularly the remote areas of Gilgit-Baltistan. He expressed these views in a meeting on Friday with Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Syed Mehdi Shah at the Wapda house.
While speaking on the occasion, the chairman said that Wapda is implementing a number of mega and medium-sized projects in Gilgit-Baltistan, including the Satpara multipurpose dam (generation capacity of 17 MW, water storage capacity 0.093 million acre feet) and Diamer-Bhasha (generation capacity of 4,500 MW, water storage capacity of 8.1 million acre feet), 7,100 MW Bunji, 34 MW Harpo, 80 MW Phandar and 40 MW Basho hydropower projects, etc.
Apprising the chief minister of the progress on the projects, he said that the Satpara dam has been completed. The construction work on 13 contracts for Wapda offices, colonies, contractors’ camps, model village for affectees, roads and infrastructure in the project area of Diamer-Bhasha dam - a priority project - is progressing at a good pace.
The process to acquire land is continuing, while expressions of interest to appoint consultants have also been called. Various financial options are being analysed for funding the project, he added.
The chairman said that detailed engineering design and tender documents of Bunji hydropower project will be completed by end March this year. He further added that two European Development Agencies, namely AFD of France and KFW of Germany have shown interest to provide funds for the Harpo hydropower project.
Dilating upon their benefits, the chairman said that these multipurpose projects will ensure availability of water for irrigated agriculture, help mitigate devastating floods and generate low-cost hydel electricity. In addition, a number of employment opportunities will also be available to the locals in Gilgit-Baltistan during construction as well as operation and maintenance phases of these projects, he said.