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Thursday, May 25, 2023

Work on Diamer-Bhasha Dam progressing despite pandemic

Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) Chairman Muzammil Hussain stated that construction work on Diamer-Bhasha Dam is progressing despite the pandemic, which has severely affected the whole world.

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Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) Chairman Muzammil Hussain visited the Diamer-Bhasha and Dasu Hydropower Project sites to review their progress. During his visit to the Diamer Bhasha Dam, the chairman was briefed that construction work on eight different sites in the project area was underway. The construction sites included access tunnel, access roads, upstream and downstream cable bridges.

Appreciating the progress, Hussain said that the construction work on Diamer-Bhasha dam is progressing despite the pandemic, which has severely affected the whole world.

Diamer-Bhasha Dam is a concreted-filled gravity dam, in the preliminary stages of construction, on the River Indus between Kohistan district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Diamer district in Gilgit Baltistan, Pakistan administered Kashmir.

The Wapda Chairman was also informed that the that work on 21-megawatt Tangir Hydropower Project which is being built to provide electricity during the construction phase of Diamer-Bhasha dam has also started. Hussain stressed that the project authorities should make certain that the construction milestones are being achieved in accordance with the agreed timelines.

Hussain also inaugurated the newly constructed cableway bridge across Indus River and the remaining three bridges are set to be to be completed in April and May one after the other.

Diamer Bhasha Dam is regarded as one of the most vital projects for ensuring water sustainability in Pakistan. Pakistan, an agro-based economy, heavily dependent upon its agricultural produce for exports cannot afford a scarcity of water. The South Asian nation sticks its hopes on the Diamer Bhasha dam to ensure food and energy security of Pakistan.

The project, after being shelved by successive governments for 40 years, was taken up by the incumbent Prime Minister Khan on priority. A dam fund; the PM-CJ Diamer Bhasha dam fund, in this regard was launched to generate funds for this expensive project. This large-scale project is scheduled to be completed in 2028-29. It has three core objectives namely water storage for agriculture, flood mitigation and hydel power generation.

The dam will have a gross water storage capacity of 8.1-million-acre feet (MAF) to irrigate 1.23 million acres of additional land.

The project with installed power generation capacity of 4500 megawatts (MW) will provide more than 18 billion units per annum to the National Grid.

Read More: Diamer-Bhasha dam to transform Pakistan’s fortune

The Diamar Bhasha project is being executed by a Chinese state-run company, China Power along with the Pakistani Frontier Works Organisation (FWO). The government signed a contract of Rs442 billion with China Power for the construction of the Diamer-Bhasha Dam. The dam project with a total financial outlay of about Rs1,406.5 billion would be completed in 2028.

China power holds the majority of share in the project. It controls 70 per cent and the FWO, a commercial arm of the Pakistan Armed Forces, has 30 per cent share in the consortium. The contract covers construction of a diversion system, main dam, access bridge and the 21MW Tangir Hydropower Project. The dam is essential to cope with the increasing water and electricity requirements of the country.

Pontoon bridge across the Indus River had already been completed ahead of schedule in December last year to facilitate the mobilisation of machinery and workforce during the current low flow season.

The Wapda chairman had earlier reviewed construction activities for Dasu Hydropower Project stage-I, being built across Indus River upstream of Dasu town in Kohistan district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and he was briefed that construction work on nine different sites was in progress.

Hussain was informed that the river diversion works are likely be completed by the end of this year and the Indus River will pass through the two diversion tunnels, paving the way for construction of the main dam.