ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan was informed on Monday that as per his directions, all issues related to the critically important Diamer-Bhasha Dam, including settlement, detailed roadmap for mobilization of financial resources etc., had been resolved and that the physical work on the project was ready for commencement.
Chairing a meeting on national water security strategy and construction of dams to meet agricultural as well as energy requirements of the country, the prime minister expressed satisfaction over the dam’s progress so far and ordered immediate commencement of construction activities.
The meeting was attended by Water Resources Minister Faisal Vawda, Planning Minister Asad Umar, Information Minister Senator Shibli Faraz, Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit Baltistan Minister Ali Amin Gandapur, Special Assistant to PM on Information Lt Gen (r) Asim Saleem Bajwa and Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) Chairman Lt Gen (r) Muzammil Hussain.
The meeting was informed that the Diamer-Bhasha project had remained stuck for decades due to various reasons. It was told that the dam’s construction would create 16,500 jobs and utilize a huge quantity of cement and steel, which would give a much-needed boost to the industry. Besides, its main purposes of water storage and producing 4,500MW of cheap and affordable electricity would help the country meet its energy requirements.
The 6.4 MAF (Million Acre Feet) water storage capacity of the dam would reduce the current water shortage in the country of 12 MAF to 6.1 MAF. It would add 35 years to the life of Tarbela Dam by reducing sedimentation. An area of 1.23 million acres of land would be brought under agriculture due to the dam.
It was further informed that an amount of Rs78.5 billion would be spent for social development of the area around Diamer Bhasha Dam. It would also be a major source of flood mitigation and save billions worth of damages caused by flood each year.
The prime minister said ensuring water security was the foremost priority of the government. Besides, optimum utilization of available water resources for agricultural needs, and construction of dams in the country would help meet energy requirements at affordable rates, he added.
The PM directed that use of local material and expertise be accorded priority during the construction work, as that would provide job opportunities to the people. “This will also boost construction and related industries, besides providing a huge stimulus to the economy.”
The WAPDA chairman briefed the meeting about the progress of ongoing construction of Mohmand Dam that started recently.
The prime minister expressed satisfaction over the speed of work.
He was also apprised of the progress on resolution of pending issues related to the Dasu Dam project. He expressed satisfaction over the progress made so far and directed to ensure expeditious commencement of the critical Dasu project.
The prime minister was briefed that funds had been arranged for Noulong Dam, Jhal Magsi district Balochistan and that the work would commence next year.
Imran Khan emphasized on starting Sindh Barrage as a priority project as it had huge benefits of addressing agriculture needs of the province. It would stop erosion of soil from sea water and also improve drinking water situation for urban centers of Sindh.
The prime minister appreciated the efforts of Ministry of Water Resources and WAPDA for pursuing projects passionately to realize the dream of self-reliance in food security, industry and exports.
He also reiterated his emphasis on keeping a close watch on quality of work and meeting the timelines.