Diamer-Bhasha Dam will benefit country economically, environmentally: PM Imran

Premier visits construction site, receives briefing on project


Rizwan Shehzad   July 15, 2020
A view of the Diamer-Bhasha Dam. Photo courtesy CPEC Chairman Lieutenant General (retd) Asim Saleem Bajwa Twitter

CHILAS:

Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Wednesday that the construction of Diamer Bhasha Dam will guarantee protection of water needs, create job opportunities and will prove to be a milestone in the flow of economic activity.

While examining the construction work on the Diamer Bhasha Dam, the PM said that the wrong decisions taken by the past governments led to environmental deterioration and decline in the industrial progress. He also spoke about the reopening of tourism in Gilgilt-Baltistan with SOPs.

The premier was expressing his views after he reached the construction site in Chilas, where he was briefed about the progress of the project. Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Genral Qamar Javed Bajwa and Director-General Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lieutenant General Faiz Hamid were also present during the briefing.

On arrival at site Lt Gen Muzamil (r) briefed PM. The premier appreciated the efforts of Chairman WAPDA and all those involved in the project.

In his speech, PM Imran regretted that the decision to build the dam was taken 50 years ago but the work has begun now, saying “this is one of the biggest reasons why we haven’t progressed.” After visiting the site, he mentioned in his speech that there can be no better site for constructing a dam as the site is perfect for a natural dam.

Subsequently, the PM vowed that the government was going towards building the “biggest dam in Pakistan’s history … this [Diamer Bhasha Dam] will be our third big dam. China already has around 5,000 big dams, and a total of about 80,000 dams. From this you can gauge the massive mistakes we have made in the past.” Unfortunately, he said, the previous rulers took decisions on short-term basis and focused on completing the projects just ahead of the elections.

The premier said the government will build more dams on rivers as it would allow Pakistan to generate its own electricity without importing furnace oil and using coal, which are harmful for environment. He said that the decisions made in the 90s to generate electricity using imported furnace oil affected the current account deficit of the country, which ultimately put pressure on foreign exchange and economic conditions started getting out of control.

Revealing that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led government inherited a current account deficit of Rs20 billion, he said, it was the largest in the country’s history while emphasising that the decision to produce electricity by importing furnace oil created difficulties and led to inflation. He said that the country went from industrialisation phase to de-industrialization phase because of wrong decisions of previous governments.

“Generating electricity from water instead of furnace oil or coal will also prevent negatively impacting global warming and climate change,” he said explaining that there will be no need to import fuel and it won’t affect the climate negatively.

Stating that the people of Gilgit-Baltistan depend on tourism, Imran said that the project would generate job opportunities for people in Chilas and in the region. Based on his own experience of the last 30 years, he said that he was familiar with GB and had visited Chilas on multiple occasions and the people would start witnessing progress once the dam, a reservoir and Cadet College starts functioning. “It’s our government’s policy to uplift the people of the areas that were left behind,” he said.

During the speech, Imran while acknowledging that the coronavirus pandemic has severely affected tourism sector said that he would ask the chief minister to start opening the sector with SOPs. While asking the CM to develop SOPs, he assured him that he would take NOC from the National Command and Control Centre (NCOC) in this regard.

“We can learn from the world, tourism is slowly resuming. It won’t be the same as it was before the pandemic hit, but we can start opening it slowly and start developing SOPs for it,” he said.

Explaining how nations progress in his speech, the premier said that the nations progress when they start thinking about their future and determine where do they want to see themselves in the next five to 20 years. The nations that take difficult decision progress, he said, adding no nation achieved anything big if it was afraid of taking difficult decisions. “Big decisions make the nations big,” he opined.

The nations that invest in its people, especially on those who were left behind, progress, he continued, adding that nations are liberated when one invests on human resource, education, health and rule of law. “History tells us that nations progress when these elements are present in a society,” he maintained.

“Foresightedness makes a nation great,” he said while giving the example of China. Imran said that China has plans targeting different things and areas for the next 30 years, adding the Chinese foresee the problems and start planning accordingly.

“This is the biggest quality of the Chinese people and that is why they are leading the world today,” he said. “No one could have thought 30 years ago that China would progress to such an extent. Other nations are afraid of China's progress and the speed with which it is moving ahead,” he said.

During his visits to China and meetings with the official of the Communist Party of China, the premier said he learnt that the secret of China’s progress is foresightedness.

He concluded his speech by congratulating the people of GB, saying “time will prove that this dam will change the fate of the people of GB, especially those living in Chilas.”

Earlier today, China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Chairman Lieutenant General (retd) Asim Saleem Bajwa said on social media that the dam's 6.4MAF (million-acre feet) of water would irrigate at least 1.2 million acres of the agricultural area in the country.

The hydel power project would generate 4,500 MW of affordable, environmentally-friendly electricity and along with boosting the cement and steel industry sectors, he added. The project would also create around 16,000 jobs in the country.

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