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China to include $14 bn Diamer-Bhasha Dam in CPEC

Financing plan to be finalised in the upcoming JCC meeting; CPEC cost to go beyond $46b as China also to finance dual carriageway

By our correspondents
November 15, 2015
ISLAMABAD: In a major development, Beijing has shown its willingness to include $14 billion Diamer-Bhasha Dam into the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) framework and its financing plan will be finalised in the next Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) meeting.
The estimated cost of the CPEC will definitely go beyond $46 billion, as China has also agreed to finance dual carriageway for western route starting from Burhan to DI Khan and onward to Gwadar.
Both the countries have also decided to make Gilgit-Baltistan as the model area under CPEC whereby development projects would be identified in the next JCC meeting.
“Pakistan has made a formal request to China for including Diamer-Bhasha Dam into CPEC framework and now Beijing has shown its willingness to discuss details of this important project in the next JCC meeting which will take place after six months,” official sources confirmed to The News on Saturday.
Pakistan requested inclusion of western route into the CPEC framework because Parliament, especially nationalist parties of KP, were pressing the government to ensure timely construction of this route.
They were even blaming the government for focusing only on the Punjab under the CPEC initiative so the government pressed the Chinese side to include dual carriageway of western route into the framework of CPEC.
The government decided to unbundle Bhasha Dam into civil work. For civil work, the construction cost stands at $7 billion which can be financed through a consortium of multilateral and bilateral donors including China.
Federal Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal confirmed to The News that China had been formally requested to include Bhasha Dam into the CPEC framework for new projects going to be considered for 2016.
“Pakistan’s food and water security is very important and Bhasha Dam seems feasible for them being located along the Karakoram Highway (KKH),” he added.
After unbundling Bhasha, the minister said the civil work would be financed through assistance of consortium of donors’ including China.
Once the civil work gets completed then there will be a lot of interest of investors for installing power generation facility, he noted.
The minister made it clear that the CPEC projects would be financed through three different avenues including the country’s own resources in shape of Public Sector Development Program (PSDP), Chinese financing and getting financial assistance from the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and others.
Now the dual carriageway of western route, he said, would be completed under the CPEC initiatives as feasibility studies of some portion of
this route were already underway.
For development of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) under CPEC initiative, the minister said Islamabad had made a request for developing echo economy of the area and now both sides will present identified projects into Joint Working Group (JWG) for finalizing financing of agreed projects.
In order to ensure effective implementation of the CPEC, the minister said both sides had decided to hold a video conferencing on monthly basis while video conferencing at JCC level will be held on a quarterly basis. The actual JCC is going to be held on bi-annually basis.