Thursday, September 17, 2009

17,000 Chinese workers from the Three Gorges Dam Project would build Daimer-Bhasha dam in Pakistan

China to help build the Daimer-Basha dam after World Bank's refusal to fund the project. It would be constructed near Chilas, on the border of the North Western Frontier Province and Gilgit-Baltistan autonomous region.

Pakistan is considering another big dam project the Diamer-Bhasha Dam on the Indus River in northern Pakistan comes with an astounding price tag of over US$8.5 billion. The 200-square-kilometer reservoir would flood 100 kilometers of the Karakoram highway.

The project, after an eight-year construction period, would provide 4500 MW of electricity for the national grid, but it would not address the far more pressing issue that half of Pakistan's population (around 80 million people) have no electricity access whatsoever. Diamer-Bhasha is a costly project that would only benefit industries and wealthy Pakistanis.

Officials from the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) of Pakistan have revealed that China will most likely fund the bulk of project costs, as well as provide 17,000 workers from the Three Gorges Dam Project. It is also likely that a Chinese company will be in charge of construction, as one source from WAPDA noted that China's policy is to take responsibility for the construction of any dam project that it finances. The poor environmental and social record of China's global dam industry doubly raises concerns that impacts that would result from the Diamer-Bhasha dam might not be adequately assessed or mitigated.

The carvings that will be destroyed by the reservoir represent the great cultural flourishing and exchange of the Indus Valley region's portion of the Silk Road. The project is located in a mountainous, earthquake-prone area and there are many engineering challenges, including relocating 100 kilometers of the Karakorum highway. These factors contribute to the project's hefty price tag.

Pakistan Government Approval :

The Executive Committee of Pakistan's National Economic Council (ECNEC) on Thursday formally approved the construction of Bhasha Diamir Dam at a cost of Rs 894 billion (US$10.758396 billion).

The meeting presided over by Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin also approved 25 other development projects. Later addressing a joint news conference, Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira and Minister for Water and Power, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf said the project to be completed in eight to ten years will generate four thousand five hundred megawatt electricity.

Work of land acquisition will start within three months while construction work on the project will begun in October next year. The Information Minister said the concerned provincial agencies and departments have been asked to remove all obstacles to complete Diamir Bhasha Dam project on priority basis. Qamar Zaman Kaira assured the people of Northern Areas that affectees of the Dam will be compensated without delay.

Preference will be given to local skilled persons for employment in the project.

The Minister said the cost of Diamer-Basha dam is Rs 894 billion with generation capacity of 4500 MW electricity. "This would prove to be a lifeline project for the country and would meet agricultural as well as power requirements of our energy starved country," he added. The Minister congratulated the entire nation including people of Northern Areas on the approval of this mega project of national importance which would usher in a new era of socio-economic prosperity in the country.

Minister for Water and Power, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Secretary Information, Ashfaq Ahmad Gondal and higher officials of concerned ministries were present on the occasion. Kaira said in the meeting total 44 projects costing Rs. 1200 billion were presented before the ECNEC for approval, out of which 26 were accorded approval. The remaining projects would be considered and approved during the next meeting scheduled to be held within next two weeks, he added.

Giving further information about the Diamer-Basha Dam, Information Minister, Qamar Zaman Kaira said the credit of approval goes to the present democratic government which has not only approved the project but also allocated funds for its implementation.

He said Rs. 15 billion have already been allocated in the current budget for the land acquisition and compensation to the affectees of the area. Kaira, who is also holding a portfolio of Kashmir Affairs and Northern Areas, appreciated the cooperation and sacrifices of people of Areas during the process of approval of project.

Not a single voice was raised from the people of Northern Areas against this project and I assure them that their genuine demands regarding compensation and settlement would be addressed on a priority basis," he said while responding to a question. The Minister further assured them that first their problems would be resolved and then the work on the project would be started, adding that the priority would be given to the local people in term of employment.

Speaking on the occasion, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf said the Dam will have the capacity to store 6.4 million acre water for irrigation purposes. It will irrigate additional three million acres of land and it will also help stop sediments to Tarbela Dam. He said the civil work on the project is expected to be started in October next year while work on land acquisition would be started within next three months. It would also generate 19 billion unit electricity at the rate of Rs.2.90 unit.

No comments: