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Business

June 15, 2016

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Govt urged to immediately start work on Diamer-Bhasha Dam

Govt urged to immediately start work on Diamer-Bhasha Dam

LAHORE: The Institute for Policy Reforms (IPR) has urged the government to start work on Diamer-Bhasha Dam forthwith, as water challenge faced by Pakistan is bigger than that of the power sector. And it is getting worse by each passing day.

Pakistan should highlight its priority to international donors, it said, adding that Pakistan must request Chinese assistance for the project.

In its fact sheet issued on Tuesday, the institute recommends urgent execution of Diamer-Bhasha Dam. It is a critical project that will increase water and power supply in the country.

Bhasha will add 6.4MAF to gross storage. This is 35 to 40 percent of the total existing capacity. The project will add 4,500MW of hydropower generation capacity, it said.

Bhasha’s IRR makes it a feasible project though its real benefit lies in enhanced national security.

The reservoir, additionally, will increase power generation capacity of Dasu by about 25 percent and of Tarbela by an estimated 10 to 15 percent. It will also reduce silting of Tarbela.

At Rs834.2 billion or $11 billion equivalent (at 2009 rate for USD), the project cost is high and perhaps a deterrent to immediate execution.

Land acquisition is another Rs101.3 billion. And then the government of Pakistan has a separate project for transmission of power.

Substantial project completion period is eight years though the total period is 11 years. ECNEC had approved the project in 2009.

Wapda, the project execution agency, has met almost all technical requirements to begin the work.

The project is on hold for want of funds. The size and financial magnitudes are unprecedented for Pakistan.  However, breaking up the project costs between the water and the power sectors and phasing its implementation makes it less daunting, the IPR said.

The fact sheet advises the government to implement power generation as an independent power producer. That leaves water civil works for the public sector. The total amount needed for the dam is $2,934 million, or Rs310 billion.

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