In a bid to tap existing hydel generation potential in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), the federal government is vigorously pursuing mega projects to construct 4,500 MW Diamer-Bhasha and 5,400 MW Dasu dams for meeting growing energy and water demands in the country.

"100 per cent land acquisition process for Diamer-Bhasha dam will be completed in the current month," official sources in the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) told APP.

Under the project, they said, a total 37,419 acres land would be acquired, out of which 19,062 acres was of government and 18,357 of private. "As many as 7,990 acres private land has already been acquired in Gilgit-Baltistan," they added. The sources informed that 17,214 acres government land had already been transferred by the GB government to the project. They said that an amount of Rs 262 million has been released to Deputy Commissioner Kohistan to acquire 162 acres of land for the Contractor's Camp in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Rs 63 million for acquisition of land for constructing Karakorum Highway (KKH) bypass.

Under pre-construction and re-settlement activities, office building at Chilas had already been constructed, they said.

During construction of the main dam, the sources said, the existing KKH would be used for carrying out construction activities while the bypass from Shatial to Thor Nullah would be utilized for uninterrupted traffic flow. Some Rs 900 million has been transferred to National Highway Authority (NHA) for building the bypass, they added.

According to the PC 1 of the Diamer-Bhahsha Dam Project (DBDP), the project would cost Rs 894.257 billion with Rs 312.943 billion foreign exchange component, the sources said.

The dam is being built on the Indus River 315 km upstream of Tarbela Dam site, about 180 km below the town of Gilgit and about 40 km downstream of Chilas.

Commenting on the progress of Dasu dam, the sources said an amount of Rs 732 million has been transferred to DC Upper Kohistan in respect of payments to land affected people of the area.

They said that five contracts had also been awarded for construction of right bank access road (Dasu-RAR-01), relocation of Karakorum Highway (Dasu-KKH-01), setting up of 132 KV transmission line from Dubair to Dasu (Dasu-TL-01), establishing project colony and infrastructure (Dasu-PCI-01R), resettlement of village Chuchang and construction of Open Air Shatial Museum (Dasu-RV).

Regarding financing of the Dasu project (Phase 1), the sources said that the World Bank would finance the Stage-I of Dasu Hydropower Project with an IDA (international development association) credit of $ 588.4 million and an IDA PCG (partial credit guarantees) of $ 460 million. A consortium of eight local banks has also agreed to provide Rs 144 billion for the main civil works, they said.

Furthermore, they said, international banks have also submitted their Indicative Terms Sheet for $ 700-1,000 million against World Bank PCG and the government guarantees for the project.

"These projects will not only generate cheap hydel electricity but also usher in a new era of development and progress in the country particularly KPK," they remarked.