From Abid Usman
LAHORE: Hydropower is considered the cheapest, safest and most environment friendly power generation system in the world. Pakistan has a hydel potential of 60,000 MW (according to WAPDA report document), however, at present Pakistan is utilizing only 6595 MW of its total available capacity.Following the recommendations of the policymakers and under an integrated plan to address the threat of power outages in the coming years, the incumbent Pakistan Tehreek e-Insaf (PTI) government, has geared up working on completion of various important multi-pronged strategy power projects.
Pakistan is placed on rank three among countries facing acute water shortage, says an International Monetary Fund (IMF) report. Therefore, for the first time in the history of Pakistan, PTI government has launched two mega projects including Diamer-Bhasha dam and Mohmand dam (scheduled to be completed by 2024), in a short period of 12 months.
The government had already taken fast track working on the Neelum-Jhelum, Tarbela 4th extension, Golen Gol and other hydropower projects which helped Wapda earn Rs80bn by December 2019. These profits are being used to increase its financial feedback to three mega projects, including Diamer-Bhasha, Mohmand and Dasu dams. On May 13, 2020, PTI government had signed a whopping Rs 442 billion contract with a joint venture of a Chinese state-run firm China Power and Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) for the construction of the Diamer-Bhasha dam.
The eight million acre feet (MAF) reservoir of the Diamer Bhasha dam with 272-metre height would be the tallest roller compact concrete (RCC) dam in the world. According to Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) study document, Diamer Bhasha dam project is vital for energy irrigation and food security of Pakistan, which is being constructed on River Indus, 315km upstream of Tarbela Dam, 180 kilometer downstream of Gilgit, and 40 kilometer downstream of Chilas town.Diamer-Bhasha Dam (DBD) Project would produce 4800 megawatts of electricity through hydro-power generation, store an extra 10.5 cubic kilometers (8,500,000 acre•ft) of water for Pakistan that would be used for irrigation and drinking, while extending the life of Tarbela Dam, which is located downstream by 35 years, the document reads.
The mega project is likely to be completed in April 2028 to usher in an era of socio economic development in the country besides bringing progress and prosperity for Gilgit Baltistan, it says. Muhammad Umer Chaudhry, a noted engineer, told reporters that the DMB dam would help mitigate flood losses and save billions in damages which were caused by flash-floods every year.