The PML-N government has failed to arrange funds for Diamer-Bhasha Dam-just like its predecessor, the PPP. The project cost, which has already gone up from $9 billion in 2009 to $14 billion, will further escalate because of this failure.

Relevant officials in the Water and Power sector fear the government will not be able to get fund commitments from the international lending agencies, even in the foreseeable future due to active lobbying by India against the mega project. India is opposing the project claiming it is being constructed on a disputed land.

This project will generate 4,500MW electricity on completion. This will be the cheapest electricity produced by any project in the country. Moreover, experts say that this project would increase the life of Tarbela Dam by 35 years. The cost of the project would double after three to four years, which implies that the government will have to work very efficiently to contain the cost of the dam which will require 10 years for completion. How did it let this one get out of hand?

Sources claim that during PPP rule the land for the dam was bought at an inflated cost of around Rs 3.5million per acre against a market price of less than Rs1.2 million per acre. The present government has now put all the blame on them, claiming that it is impossible now to build it. It is time that PML-N stop dwelling on the mistakes of previous governments (no matter how appalling they have been) and look at what they are doing wrong.

One can either call it inefficiency or negligence, but despite the two ground-breaking ceremonies of Diamer-Bhasha dam by the successive governments, developmental work on the life-saving project is stuck. The planning commission in a note has asked the government, instead of working on just one point agenda of land acquisition, the government should start work on the 4500MW hydropower Diamer-Bhasha from multiple directions, which included land acquisition, excavation, dam and construction of power stations.

The PML-N government needs to get this one off the ground. There are already rumours that this is self-sabotage to justify the import of Liquefied Natural Gas from Qatar, and not one project has yet been successfully started that can provide energy to Pakistan. Metro Bus like projects have sucked the treasury dry and will continue to do so as they run on state subsidies. The Diamer-Bhasha can actually generate electricity and thus revenue, but the government’s vision has been too myopic.