ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday performed the ground-breaking ceremony of 4,320MW Dasu Hydro-Power Project at Dasu.Addressing the ceremony, the prime minister said: “Today is a historic day not only for Pakistan but also for the people of the area as we have performed the ground-breaking of 4,320MW Dasu Hydropower Project. The ground-breaking of Dasu Project reflects the government’s resolve to achieve energy security for rapid development of the country. We are spending Rs 500 billion on this area to provide employment to locals and help significantly in poverty alleviation.” He further said: “We have always worked for the development of Pakistan and initiation of infrastructure projects like Motorways has been the hallmark of our government. If we are allowed to complete the five-year term, Pakistan’s fate will change.” He further said the World Bank’s assistance for this project showed sound economic policies of this government.The prime minister said the River Indus had 40,000MW power potential, but the country had been able to tap only 7,000MW so far. “We plan to fully utilise this potential while 4,500MW Diamer-Bhasha Dam is another project on the River Indus which we will take up shortly after Dasu Hydro Power Project,” the PM added. He termed Dasu Project a big initiative in terms of its power-generation capacity, adding the government had taken many steps to provide sufficient energy to the power-starved economy. He also thanked the World Bank for providing assistance for the project.Stressing the need for the availability of affordable electricity, the PM said, “Our problem is not merely electricity. What we are striving for is cheap and affordable electricity to meet the requirements of the growing economy and increasing population. The role of hydel electricity is of immense importance to rid the people of power shortage and put the economy on the trajectory of development. It is through addition of hydel electricity in the system that we can bring down the power tariff and provide relief to the common man.”Earlier, the PM was briefed that Dasu Hydropower Project was a run-of-the river project at the Indus, 7km upstream of Dasu Town, district Kohistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. “The project, having capacity of 4,320MW, has been proposed to be constructed in two stages. The first stage includes six units with total installed capacity of 2,160 MW, land acquisition, resettlement, environmental and social management. The second stage includes installation of the remaining six units. The construction of stage-II will be taken up after the completion of stage-I. The estimated cost of the stage-I is Rs 486.093 billion and will be completed in five years, while the first unit will start production after 4.5 years,” the PM was told.The prime minister was also briefed on the current status of the project. The Wapda chairman told the PM that the engineering design studies of Dasu Project, including environment as well as social studies, pre-qualification and bidding documents, had been completed. The Ecnec at its meeting on March 28, 2014, approved the PC-I of Dasu Project for stage-I costing Rs 486.093 billion. Total 30 resettlement sites have been identified and finalised with the consultation of the affected people of the respective villages. The master plan and survey of eight 8 resettlement sites have already been completed. The World Bank board of directors has approved the financing of the stage-I of Dasu Hydropower Project with US$ 1.048 billion, the PM was told.Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Sardar Mehtab Ahmed Khan, Federal Water and Power Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Water and Power Secretary Nargis Sethi, Wapda Chairman Zafar Mehmood, Lt-Gen (r) Salahuddin Tirmazi and the KP chief secretary also attended the ceremony.This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 26-Jun-2014 here.