The final offer

By Mansoor Ahmad
March 21, 2023

LAHORE: A Russian led consortium is visiting Pakistan to finance and construct Katzarah mega dam in Pakistan, after failure to finalise a deal in September 2012 and September 2018 for the construction of the Diamer Bhasha Dam in a government-to-government deal.


According to sources, they are proposing to finance and construct Katzarah dam situated near Skurdu. It is the starting point from where River Indus enters Pakistan and is located at a height of 8,202 feet.

The consortium has done its homework. The dam site is surrounded on two sides. It would cost $12.4 billion, including power generation equipment. “Total cost would be borne by the Russian consortium,” said Dr Mohammad Iqbal Wahala, who is the local partner of the consortium.

The dam would have the capacity to store 35 million acre feet of water and generate 15,000MW of electricity. Both these capacities are almost double than the total capacities of all dams operating in Pakistan. The dam would not dislocate the population as well.

Construction would almost eliminate the problem of silt sedimentation in all current and proposed dams. All these dams are downstream of the Indus River.

After Katzarah the next dam site is Bunji, which is a power generation site but with no storage of water. Bunji is located at a height of 4,767 feet, said Engineer Mohsin Syed who is a consultant of the local partner.

He said downstream Buji is another dam site Challab located at a height of 4,150 feet. Then comes Diamer Bhasha Dam that has capacity to store 7 million acre feet of water and power generation capacity of 4,500MW at a height of 3,300 feet. The Dasu dam is further downstream and is located at a height of 2,759 feet.

There is a natural symmetry on the river Indus path. Tarbella is located at the lowest end while Bhasha Dam proposed site is a little higher. The major problem in all Pakistani dams that are located at or proposed on River Indus is that of silting caused by millions of tonnes of sand that comes with the water that fills these dams.

Tarbella has already lost almost half of its water storage capacity because of silting. According to experts, after Katzarah Dam the silting problem on downstream dams would be resolved and enhance the life of all dams built on River Indus.

The dam would also supply 15,000MW of clean energy. It would increase the life run of the river power generation sites located at several points downstream Indus.

It would also address the water shortage problems as this dam would be regularly topping up all dams that are located downstream Indus. The consortium proposes to construct the dam on built-own-transfer basis. They propose to recover costs through power generation.

The government would have to negotiate the tariff and other conditions with the sponsors that want a similar deal that was offered to Chinese hydro-power projects.

In a message to local partner Kevin, the consortium head and a former investment bank have expressed hope that this time he would ensure the offer gets accepted. He has given assurance to other consortium partners that it will be the last time they are making an offer.