Diamer-Bhasha: Five decades later, Pakistan breaks ground on major dam

Published: October 19, 2011
The dam will have the capacity to produce 4,500 megawatts of electricity. PHOTO: PID

The dam will have the capacity to produce 4,500 megawatts of electricity. PHOTO: PID

ISLAMABAD: The last time a new, major dam project was inaugurated in Pakistan was at Tarbela, almost five decades ago, under the Ayub Khan administration.

That dry spell broke on Tuesday when Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani became the first democratically-elected head of government to lay the foundation stone for the 4,500MW Diamer-Bhasha Dam.

“The [Diamer-Bhasha] dam will be the lifeline for the country’s economy,” Gilani told a public gathering in Chilas at the foundation stone-laying ceremony.

“It’s an historic day and I salute you for sacrificing your ancestral lands and homes to secure the future of Pakistan,” Gilani said, addressing the approximately 22,000 people in 30 villages that are likely to be displaced due to the dam.

With a storage capacity of about 8 million acre feet (MAF) and projected electricity generation of 4,500MWs, Diamer-Bhasha will top both Tarbela and Mangla dams, whose storage capacities have fallen drastically due to silting over the years.

The project will take eight years to complete and will cost over $12 billion.

In addition to the Rs11.5 billion already allocated for the project, Gilani announced an additional Rs1 billion for repair and expansion of Karakoram Highway and other roads in the region.

Asking the authorities concerned to ensure that locals are employed in the construction of the dam, Gilani announced Rs200 million for the development of Diamer district, besides announcing a cadet college for the region and upgradation of district headquarters hospitals of Chilas, Gilgit and Skardu.

He said that an engineering faculty would be set up at the Karakoram International University which would later be upgraded to an engineering university.

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

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Reader Comments (36)

  • Raza
    Oct 18, 2011 - 2:20PM

    Mashaallah. Shukar hai at least, it has got a start. Hope there will be no corruption and no blame and courts game.


  • Dare to speak
    Oct 18, 2011 - 2:41PM

    Royalty must be given to Gilgit-Baltistan not to KPK.Recommend

  • Oct 18, 2011 - 3:00PM

    Why in G-B? It is in K-P and he should be there it inaugurate it. Lets not punish K-P becoz she offended some of us on Kalabagh. Basha dam is all in K-P, only the water clogging effects will spread to G-B for which they are already being compensated.


  • Asim
    Oct 18, 2011 - 3:01PM

    Finally .. a good step! now let’s work on other productive projects for Pakistan …


  • shafaq
    Oct 18, 2011 - 3:07PM

    After how many years this dam will be operational?


  • RP
    Oct 18, 2011 - 3:07PM

    De ja vu

    Both laying the foundation stone
    no progress will be made


  • Realist.
    Oct 18, 2011 - 3:13PM

    AFTER 4 Years of Government!!
    & now they will call it an ACHIEVEMENT for the rest of their lives!


  • Aafiyat Nazar
    Oct 18, 2011 - 4:06PM

    Construction of the dam in the area, whose inhabitants have not yet been constitutionally recognized and whose inhabitants are treated as pseudo Pakistani is unconstitutional.


  • Ezanius
    Oct 18, 2011 - 4:12PM

    @Assad:::::::::Why K-P ????????? the dam is being built in GB. The lands of GB are being submerged, even the inauguration ceremony took place on the lands of GB. The PM speaks about GB in his inauguration speech….. This dam must be called DIAMER DAM and royalty be given to GB.


  • farid syed
    Oct 18, 2011 - 4:30PM

    @Dare to speak:

    The Government should compensate the Dam effected of GB people in regard of their future needs the distribution of money is the big way of corruption in GB now the people have been well aware after an incident of 8/11 in Hunza when the police opend fired on the IDP,s when they were protesting for receiving their given package of 6000, Rup,


  • Ali Tanoli
    Oct 18, 2011 - 4:49PM

    Hey Guys,
    Is not China offered pakistan cheap electricity just 500 rupees per house hold for month
    as much u used why they refused they are crooks no 1 in the world and look it what they
    did to railways now look like it some african train sys why dont they hire some chinese
    or any one who can run this Recommend

  • rizwan
    Oct 18, 2011 - 4:52PM

    PM should set the operational date of dam!


  • Ali Tanoli
    Oct 18, 2011 - 5:06PM

    @ farid syed,
    They allways does this to us we are Terbela dam peoples and what they give us that time
    in 70 when they build it that dam and also look it mangla dam peoples they got every
    thing after all punjab is ruler of pakistan but dont worry now peoples in KP also getting
    smart this time if they come to us we will see…


  • Saad
    Oct 18, 2011 - 5:11PM

    @Ali Tanoli:

    Lol, China made no such offer, in fact China it self is suffering from a massive energy shortage.

    Kudos to the government, dair aaye durust aye!


  • Oct 18, 2011 - 5:14PM

    The diamer Basha dam’s construction and damage should be given to the people proportion to their damages of provinces.
    there should not be the past practice to capture the resources of younger brother by the big brother.
    NFC awards should be distributed as per damage/share of Provinces.


  • Nasir
    Oct 18, 2011 - 5:31PM

    At least a good start…


  • Babar
    Oct 18, 2011 - 5:50PM

    Kalabagh should be next


  • Babar
    Oct 18, 2011 - 5:52PM

    Good business opportunity for heavy construction companies like Caterpillar! I hope there will be no or less corruption in awarding tenders!


  • Shahid Malik
    Oct 18, 2011 - 5:57PM

    Such big projects require a lot of preparations before the actual construction can start. It is a good news. Let us not spoil things by creating unnecessary controversies. Everybody must put in his best effort to solve national issues of energy and water conservation irrespective of whether one is in power at the federal or provincial level.

    I am not an expert but have a feeling that Kalabagh Dam was made controversial because Zia wanted to divert people’s attention from elections. Now, nobody should be allowed to convert any good step into another controversy.

    I would like to take this opportunity to appeal to all provincial governments to take concrete steps and initiate energy & water conservation projects.


  • hamza khan
    Oct 18, 2011 - 6:29PM


    the musharraf government did the feasibility for it and did all the legwork. i have no idea what this government is doing. the foundational stone was laid by president musharraf. its possible that this is simply an photo-op to deflect attention from startling energy deficits.


  • Oct 18, 2011 - 6:39PM

    And it will take what…10 years to build the dam?


  • Amjad
    Oct 18, 2011 - 6:40PM

    @Realist.: Well done and bravo! We had a dictatorship that couldn’t add 1 kw of energy to the grid in 9 years. Great to see that an elected government can do this in under 4 years!


  • fahim
    Oct 18, 2011 - 6:54PM

    will be completed in next 25 years… whats the point..


  • Hafiz Saeed
    Oct 18, 2011 - 7:13PM

    On a Pakistani schedule, this dam will be completed in the year 2051.


  • Oct 18, 2011 - 8:10PM

    it is a very good decision because we have not built any major dame like tarbela from our independence and it is the reason that we are facing such energy crisis so i congradulate to all pakistani.


  • Oct 18, 2011 - 9:23PM

    What is the hurry Mr. PM…………….. Still many many months are there.


  • wahab
    Oct 18, 2011 - 10:22PM

    @Ali Tanoli: it frustrates me to read these comments from ppl like u.. Firstly there was nothing like 500 per household.. Even in china its very expensive.. I live in hk and i know so dont negate.. Secondly chinese cant be given control of everything unless u want a new east india company.. There are some rules.. Chinese are not as good as u may think..everyone guards his interests.. So better to get rid of these crooks and u pay ur electricity bill instead of using ur kunda!


  • Parvez
    Oct 18, 2011 - 11:29PM

    Possibly the foundation stone is a portable one, all they do is change the name and the date untill its photograpy and headline time one again. The people are not amused.


  • Salman Saif
    Oct 19, 2011 - 12:16AM

    i read a moment earlier that this dam was started earlier by Musharraf too .. and its feasibility was prepared in his time (2006) and even back in 1981 this dam was in the spotlight and study was done for its construction…. but due to some political issues and interference by anti Pak elements it has always been interrupted …. this time i request all my Pakistanis that please let them build it yr… kio k bohat bura hal hay bijli k bgair … na din ko chain na rat ko sukun ;p


  • Salman Saif
    Oct 19, 2011 - 12:18AM

    @Aafiyat Nazar:
    let them build it please .. i read the dam lies in KPK and KPK is in Pakistan .


  • Aftab
    Oct 19, 2011 - 1:58AM

    So we have the usual PPP hype and promises, but what about an actual start date? I’ve read nothing about when the work will actually start on this project. Why haven’t we been given a firm date?

    Or is it more lies to fool the already gullible masses, and reduce the heat already on this incompetent regime?


  • Oct 19, 2011 - 8:18AM

    Mr prime minister
    why can’t you address a gathering without mentioning the laurels done by the PPP members. You time is precious and should be utilized to the optimum. You must be brief and to the point. And if you are too determined to narrate the history, kindly also mention the big corruption cases along with it. Being PM you should have the courage to speak truth.Recommend

  • Sharifullah
    Oct 19, 2011 - 3:12PM

    The Project was already initiated, approved and work started by Pervize Musharraf. The Previous Projects are bring in the new frame work of his Government. Old Wine in New Bottle.


  • IS
    Oct 20, 2011 - 2:38PM

    its a good start……………lets hope 4 da bst n all da bst 4 all GB people,,,,,


  • Ahsan Shah
    Oct 20, 2011 - 8:10PM

    let me introduce myself…..em working on Diamer Basha Dam project and I was there on the inauguration ceremony….only 1298 kanal land of K.P.K is purchased for dam and G.B is giving 35000 Acres of land for this project…..not a single person of K.P.K is loosing his house b8 30000 people of Diamer are loosing their houses, lands, shops, hotels and almost everything….so the right of royalty should be defined on these grounds…


  • K.S.Khan
    Nov 8, 2011 - 4:50AM

    it is undoubtedly a good step by the democratic government to strengthen and secure its economy and public opinion.we must appreciate the step which the government has taken..


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