Diamer Bhasha Dam – a game changer project in energy arena

By Ajmal Khan Yousafzai

ISLAMABAD: Since its inception in August 2018, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government remained focused on harnessing the untapped 50,000 MW hydel power generation potential to achieve self-sufficiency in the energy sector and enhancing the water storage capacity, putting the country on consistent path of progress and prosperity.
Under the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan, after kicking off physical work of the much-awaited Mohmand Dam in May 2019, the government has also started strategically important mega project Diamer Bhasha dam which would prove as a game changer for the country.
Diamer Bhasha Dam Project, with a total financial outlay of about Rs 1406.5 billion would be completed by 2028. The project amount would be spent on land acquisition and resettlement, confidence building measures for social uplift of the locals, construction of dam and power houses. Diversion work will be completed within 2-3 years while the project will be commissioned by 2028.
Diamer Bhasha Dam with gross water storage capacity of 8.1 million acre feet (MAF) and power generation capacity of 4500 mega watt (MW) will go a long way in stabilizing the economy. Construction of the project will also enhance life of Tarbela Dam by 35 years. The project will also prove to be instrumental in developing the human resources and creating employment opportunity in the country. As many as 16,500 job opportunities of engineers and allied staff will be made available at the national and local levels, he further said.
The project will also help reduce the current water shortage of 12 MAF to 6.1 MAF while its economic agriculture values is estimated as $ 1.2 billion per annum. According to Chairman Water and Power Development Authority Lt Gen (R) Muzammil Hussain funding for this mega project had already been arranged, adding the government would provide 30 percent funds, while remaining would be arranged by Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA).
Earlier, he said, such mega projects remained limited to files and paperwork for decades but the PTI government under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan had practically launched all strategically important projects. Appreciating the Chinese government, Supreme Court Implementation Bench, armed forces and entire team of Water Resources Ministry for extending their support to launch mega projects after decade, the Chairman said last year Mohmand dam project was started after 54 years and this year physical work has been started on Diamer Bhasha dam.
Currently, the chairman said feasibility study of Sindh Barrage was also being carried out and after Diamer Bhasha dam, work on Sindh Barrage project would also be started. He said the project would help generate 16000-17,000 new jobs. WAPDA would spend Rs 78 billion on the uplifting of the area, he added. The Chairman said currently, only 13 Million Acre Feet (MAF) water was being stored while 100 per cent increase would be made in storage capacity by 2030 through Mohmand, Diamer Basha, Kurram Tangi, Sindh Barrage, Chiniot, Naulong, Murunj and Hingol projects.
Similarly, he said existing hydel generation share would be enhanced from 9,406 MW to 14,000 MW by 2025 and 30,000 MW by 2030. Muzammil Hussain said Diamer Bhasha project was stuck up for the last 15 years due to resettlement issues. However, due to concerted efforts of the government, the resettlement issues had been resolved, he added. He said the government had limited resources and could not provide Rs 1400 billion to fund this mega project.
However, it was decided that the government would provide 30 per cent share while remaining 70 percent fund would be arranged by WAPDA, he said. He said that Diamer Bhasha Dam was a phenomenal project to ensure water, food and energy security in Pakistan. It is pertinent to mention here that WAPDA has already signed an agreement worth Rs 442 billion with Joint Venture partner Power China-FWO for construction of diversion system, main Diamer Bhasha dam, access bridge and 21 MW-Tangir Hydropower project.