Pakistan Agriculture News

‘Work on Diamer-Bhasha Dam must start in 2018’

ISLAMABAD: Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) Chairman Muzammil Hussain has warned that the country will face dire consequences if work on the critical Diamer-Bhasha Dam is not started as early as next year.

“Unfortunately, the country has failed to undertake any major water reservoir project, which has resulted in severe water shortage,” he said while briefing the National Assembly Standing Committee on Water Resources on Thursday.

The committee met at the Federal Flood Commission under the chairmanship of MNA Khalid Hussain Magsi.

Officials of the Indus River System Authority (Irsa) have said that Pakistan was facing the effects of global warming and river flows slowed down in March this year.

The Wapda chairman pointed out that after 11 years international donors refused to fund the Diamer-Bhasha Dam in 2016, calling the dam site a disputed area. “Wapda is facing problems in funding the project through its own resources as its total cost is estimated at $14 billion.”

Hussain recalled that during premier Shaukat Aziz’s tenure, the National Transmission and Despatch Company (NTDC) was separated from Wapda. He termed it a wrong decision as Wapda was now generating electricity at one location while the NTDC was laying transmission lines at another.

He pointed out that the Private Power and Infrastructure Board (PPIB), which was working on hydroelectric power generation projects, was required to be with Wapda, but it was working under the control of Power Division. The committee voiced concern that some departments like NTDC had been given under the control of the Ministry of Energy, which could harm their overall performance as they were mainly linked with the Ministry of Water Resources.

Hussain told the NA panel that financial close for the Dasu hydroelectric power project had been achieved and work was in progress. The project will cost $4-5 billion and the World Bank has agreed to fund 20% of the cost.

He revealed that first unit of the Golen Gol project would come online by December 2017 while the Tarbela 4th Extension project would start power generation by February next year.

Officials of the Ministry of Water Resources said the ministry had made no improvement and it was still in the initial stages as it was 70 years ago. No recruitments were made on important posts, which were still lying vacant, they said.

Source Express Tribune