Construction work on Bhasha Dam yet to start
ISLAMABAD -You can either call it inefficiency or negligence but despite the two ground-breaking ceremonies of Diamer-Bhasha dam by the successive governments, developmental work on the life-saving project could not be started.
The planning commission in a note has asked the government, instead of working on just one point agenda of land acquisition, the government should start work on the 4500MW hydropower Diamer-Bhasha from multiple directions, which included land acquisition, excavation, dam and construction of power stations, an official source told The Nation.
“Once you start work simultaneously on all these phases, you’ll see there will be line of investors,” the official maintained adding that currently, due to its disputed nature, no lender is ready to fund the project.
Although the Bhasha dam ground-breaking ceremonies were held twice by two different chief executives, first by General Musharraf and then by premier Yousuf Raza Gilani, but the authorities have failed to move an inch from the land acquisition, the official confirmed.
“You have to convey the message loud and clear that we are more than serious about the construction of this project and will complete it at every cost,” the official said.
The government should move beyond the rhetoric and start physical work on the Bhasha dam project, direct resources from other unnecessary or less necessary projects towards the most important and huge project, he added.
With a storage capacity of about 8 million acre feet (MAF) and projected electricity generation of 4,500MWs, Diamer-Bhasha, to be constructed in Gilgit Baltistan, will cost 14 billion dollars.
Tarbela dam was the last major project completed in Pakistan four decades ago; now it’s time to built new water reservoirs as both big reservoirs, Tarbela and Mangla dams, storage capacities have drastically depleted due to silting over the years.
There is a lobby working against this project and they want to divert the attention from consensus oriented water storage reservoir like Bhasha. Currently the authorities have diverted their energies towards the completion of Dasu project, which is just a power generating project and cannot store water, the official maintained.
“We are not against the new projects but we want the government to prioritise things, as in the next ten years, the country’s water problem will be much severe than today’s power shortage,” the official maintained.
“If you fail to construct big water reservoir, like Bhasha in the next eight to ten years, you are going to lose the fertile land of Punjab and Sindh as the farmers will be unable to cultivate water intensive crops such as sugarcane and rice,” the official warned.
“Land acquisition is a lengthy process and you cannot stop work on the project till the completion of land requisition. Start work on other phases, as the land requisition and associated arrangements will take about five to six years,” the official said adding, “You cannot wait too long for the completion of one phase. A total of 32 villages with a collective population of 25,000 people will be affected due to the construction of the dam.
After years of foot-dragging and delays, the present government had allocated an amount in the PSDP 2014-15 for the Bhasha dam, but it was not utilised and the fund was diverted to other project.
In the PSDP 2015-16, the government allocated Rs10 billion for the land requisition and Rs6 billion for the construction of the dam. Let’s hope that the present government would move ahead from just the inauguration of project, the official said. Source The Nation