LAHORE - The fate of multi-billion dollar 4,500megawatt Diamer-Bhasha Dam has become uncertain due to non-availability of funds for the project, being considered vital for the energy starved country, it has been learnt.
Despite claims by the government that funds for this project would be coming from various sources, none of the friendly countries and international lending agencies have expressed their willingness to fund the multi-purpose dam.
Since the energy crisis is intensifying with the increase in the temperature with every passing day, arrangements for the money for the project have become a major challenge for the PML-N government which is striving to curtail the loadshedding, said official sources in water and power sector.
Although Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said in London that the government would fund the project from its own sources, nobody knows where the funds would come from. Similarly, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar had claimed a significant progress in arranging funds for the mega project on August 2013, saying the world’s two biggest multilateral lenders (World Bank and Asian Development Bank) had agreed to finance the mega project.
But sources informed The Nation on Saturday that the Asian Development Bank has not given any strong commitment for financing the mega project despite repeated requests by the government in past two months. Dar had also claimed in August last year that World Bank had withdrawn its condition of seeking a no-objection certificate from India for releasing funds for the dam and the government convinced the Bank it was not legally necessary to seek the NOC from neighbouring country.
“Things are really turning bad and the government might not complete even one fourth phase of work on Diamer-Basha Dam,” said sources, adding the World Bank was sticking to its condition of seeking NOC from India, which has been questioning project’s legality saying “it was being built at a disputed territory”. The official said that government has not received positive reply from China and other friendly countries too regarding financing the project.
Former President Pervez Musharraf had performed the ground-breaking of Basha Dam in 2006 and former Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani repeated it in 2011. The former PPP government also abandoned the most feasible Kalabagh Dam declaring it against the national unity. The PPP leaders had said that Basha Dam would prove be an alternative to controversial dam which was politicised by various governments. The PML-N government also sidelined the KBD, but pledged to complete other mega energy projects in its tenure.
The cost of Basha Dam has more than doubled during the past seven years from $6.5 billion to around $14 billion. The project has to be carried out on river Indus, about 315 km upstream of Tarbela Dam, 165 km downstream of the Northern Area capital Gilgit and 40 km downstream of Chilas. The proposed dam would have a maximum height of 270 meter, and impound a reservoir of about 7,500,000 acre feet (9.25×109 m3), with live storage of more than 6,400,000 acre feet (7.89×109 m3) and electricity generation capacity of 4,500MW.