Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that construction of 10 dams and hydropower projects initiated by the PTI government in 2018 and to be completed by 2028 besides generating cheaper electricity will also make the country’s 8 million acres of land cultivable and ensure food security.
Talking to media on the occasion of his visit to Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s (K-P) Mohmand district to oversee the progress on the construction on Mohmand Dam on Wednesday, he regretted that despite having the large potential, “no dams were constructed in Pakistan after the decade of 1960s or over the last 50 years”.
The premier said that contrary to China which had constructed 80,000 dams including 5,000 big dams, Pakistan had only two big dams.
وزیر اعظم عمران خان نے مہمند ڈیم کا دورہ کیا اور جاری کام کا جائزہ لیا۔ اس موقع پر چیئرمین واپڈا لیفٹیننٹ جنرل (ر) مزمل حسین نے منصوبے پر پیشرفت کے حوالے سے وزیر اعظم کو بریفنگ دی۔#APPNews #PakistanProgressesWithPMIK @IMMahmoodKhan @PakPMO @MoIB_Official @infokpgovt pic.twitter.com/K4T9GHkdeC— APP 🇵🇰 (@appcsocialmedia) May 19, 2021
He said that 10 dams including Bhasha and Dasu would be constructed under the vision of clean and green Pakistan and in view of the climate changes.
With the growing population, PM Imran said, the construction of “dams and water reservoirs is a must to tackle the challenges of food security”.
“Despite bumper wheat crop this year, the country will have to import the commodity to fulfil its demand,” he added.
He further said that the construction of dams and water reservoirs was also important for meeting the demand of clean drinking water for major cities and urban centres like Lahore and Karachi.
While referring to tanker mafia in Karachi, which is making billions of rupees, the prime minister said that the construction of a lake at Ravi City Lahore is meant to provide clean water to the residents of area.
“The construction of Peshawar’s Mohmand Dam will get 300 million gallons of water,” he added.
PM Imran, in response to a question, said previous rulers instead of initiating dams and hydropower projects opted to take an easy path of signing expensive power generation contracts with independent power producers (IPPs) and made money through “commissions and kickbacks”.
He regretted that instead of exploiting Pakistan’s hydropower potential of producing 50,000 megawatts of cheaper electricity, “they went for expensive power generation agreements with IPPs”, a major cause of circular debt.
He also mentioned the “clause of capacity payment in agreements with IPPs, which bounded the government for payment to the private power generation companies even if the electricity produced by them was used or not, as one of the major reasons behind the growing circular debt”.
He said the power sector circular debt, which was Rs480 billion in 2018, swelled to Rs900 billion at present and would reach Rs1,455 billion in 2023.
The prime minister, however, added that the present government is trying to renegotiate the agreements with IPPs.
To a question about tourism promotion, he said that with the current third wave of Covid-19, the government besides measures to check the spread of coronavirus in the country has also been trying to keep the wheels of economy running and save the people from economic problems
The prime minister urged the masses to continue to follow coronavirus SOPs including the use of face masks to protect themselves from the deadly virus as well as country from economic effects.