ISLAMABAD: Water Resources Minister Faisal Vawda on Wednesday rejected India’s objections to Diamer-Bhasha dam, saying that the enemy was perturbed because the work on the much-awaited mega project got underway.
Speaking at a joint press conference with Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) Chairman Lt-Gen (retd) Muzammil Hussain and Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing, the minister said that funding for the project had already been arranged.
“The work on Diamer-Bhasha dam has started by the present government. The budget is being discussed at all levels for the water and power sector. There will also be the budget for this project,” he said. “Rs78 billion will be spent for the welfare of the people of Diamer-Bhasha,” he added.
“The government will provide 30% funding, while the rest will be arranged by the Wapda,” Vawda said. He thanked the Chinese government, the Supreme Court, armed forces, Wapda, and the entire team of water resources ministry for their support to launch the mega projects.
The minister said that last year Mohmand dam project was started after 54 years. “Currently, feasibility study of the Sindh Barrage is being carried out and after Diamer-Bhasha dam, work on the Sindh Barrage project will also be started,” he added.
On the occasion, Wapda Chairman Lt-Gen (retd) Muzammil Hussain gave technical details of the dam project. “India’s objections to Diamer-Bhasha dam are baseless,” he said, adding that Indus basin agreement had its own significance, but the treaty was being violated by India.
“Diamer-Bhasha dam is being built inside the Pakistani area and we will complete the dam section [of the project] in five years,” he said. “Various committees, comprising representatives of relevant ministries, have been formed for the completion of the project,” he added.
The Wapda chief revealed that Pakistan had the capacity to store only 10% of its water resources. “Water is available for 80 days a year,” he said, adding that work had begun on plans to store more than a million-acre feet of water.
For the first time in the history of Pakistan, two projects were launched in a period of 12 months, Muzammil Hussain said. “The Mohmand dam project will be completed by December 2024, while Diamer-Basha will be commissioned in 2028,” he added.
About the availability of funds for the mega project, the Wapda chairman said that Diamer-Bhasha dam would cost Rs474 billion. “The government will provide 30% investment for the project, while Wapda will invest Rs100 billion,” he said. “[We] will also issue bonds for the dam.”
Giving salient features of the dam, he said that the project would generate 6,000 megawatts of hydel power and it create 16,000 new jobs. Besides, he added, Diamer-Bhasha dam would increase the lifespan of the Tarbela dam by 35 years.
Responding to a question, Lt-Gen (retd) Muzammil Hussain said that the decision to build it as an RCC [roller-compacted-concrete] dam was taken by experts. He added that all the dams being built on the Indus river would be RCC dams.
“In the event of any glacier lake spill in the future, the dam will be protected,” he said. He also said that the work of Diamer-Bhasha dam was being supervised by the Supreme Court itself, while it would be constructed by the Diamer-Bhasha Company.
Speaking on the occasion, Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing said that Diamer-Bhasha dam was a huge project. “The start of construction of Diamer-Bhasha dam is a historic opportunity for Pakistan. It will play an important role in the economic development of Pakistan.”
He said that in addition to economic development, the project would also help prevent floods and generate cheaper electricity. “The industrial sector will benefit from it and Pakistan’s exports will increase. This project will prove beneficial to the economy of Pakistan.”
(With additional input from APP.)