The World Bank has unanimously approved the Dasu hydro electric power project. This will take ten years to complete. Debt servicing will then start 5 years after generation and the first unit would be produced in 5 years. The work will be slow as usual but we need to emulate Indian and Chinese models of dams, and none of the successful dams in these countries are funded by the World Bank, but are national projects. Only in Pakistan do we need foreign sanctioning for projects of such great importance.

The World Bank has made a bid for the Pakistani energy sector and this is not a new strategy on their part. Currently the same is happening in Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo where they are funding dams to electrify large parts of Africa. The World Bank is not keen to get involved with these messy projects directly. There are so many examples of World Bank funded dams becoming national problems. Chixoy dam in Guatemala, Yacyreta dam in Argentina, Lesotho Highlands Water Project, the Sardar Sarovar dam in India are but some of the few Bank funded projects that have wreaked havoc with the local livelihoods. Since 1948, the World Bank has been the single greatest financier of dam projects, and as the record stands, they have forcibly displaced 10 million people from their homes. The Bank’s own 1994 “Resettlement and Development” review admits that majority of women, men and children evicted never regain their former incomes nor state benefits that are promised to them.

Not to put a damper on the development, but we need to be very smart about how we go about our foreign funds. Let’s not forget the World Bank is a profit making organization. Where we can be gracious for the funds and look forward to a better future for energy, we have to make sure that dam is constructed on time, with minimal wastage of resources and maximum support to the communities around the dam. We must remember that the success of the project is Pakistan’s responsibility and not the World Bank’s. The Bank is just waiting for the debt to be serviced.