Mega water projects to get Rs33b next year

Govt to earmark Rs20.5b for Diamer-Bhasha Dam.

Zafar Bhutta May 18, 2011


The government is expected to allocate Rs33 billion for mega water projects in the upcoming budget for 2011-12 in an effort to address water shortage particularly for crops and boost power generation to cope with the energy shortfall.

Sources told The Express Tribune that out of the total amount Rs20.5 billion will be set aside for the Diamer-Bhasha Dam. Work on the dam will start on May 24 and it will have the capacity to generate 4,500 megawatts of electricity.

“Out of Rs20.5 billion for Diamer-Bhasha, the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) will provide Rs2.5 billion from its own resources,” an official said.

For small dams, the government is expected to allocate an additional Rs19 billion in the 2011-12 budget for projects across the country.

A high-level meeting on Wednesday, co-chaired by Water and Power Minister Naveed Qamar and Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, reviewed the plan to construct 12 small dams.

Shaikh told the meeting that maximum possible funds would be earmarked for the water sector in the annual development plan keeping in view available resources. He said the government would provide all-out financial support to other mega projects as well.

Qamar said the development of small dams would help in the socio-economic uplift of remote areas of the country, adding the water and power and finance ministries would help arrange funds for completion of work on dams which had already been inaugurated.

Besides irrigating one million acres of crop area, which is the main purpose of the 12 small dams, they will lead to the creation of 58,000 jobs and empowerment of women through allotment of developed irrigated land to them in the area around the dams, he said.

Earlier, Wapda Chairman Shakeel Durrani said the 12 dams would be constructed in two phases with a storage capacity of four million acre feet of flood water. In the first phase, Winder and Naulong dams will be constructed in Balochistan, Kurram Tangi Dam in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Darwat and Nai Gaj dams in Sindh and Ghabir Dam in Punjab.

Exim Bank of China has agreed to provide $700 million for small and medium-sized dams.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 19th, 2011.


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