KARACHI - WAPDA has sought $5 billion loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for the construction of Diamer-Bhasha Dam. Chief Executive Officer, Bhasha Dam Project, Dr Izhar told TheNation that the ADB officials were willing to provide $2.50 billion for the project to WAPDA which has, however, requested the ADB give it US$5 billion. The ADB officials plan to take up the issue with its board. Bhasha Dam CEO said the ADB officials were holding meetings with WAPDA officials to work out the amount of loan and look into the environmental and social aspects of the project. After the meetings between the first mission of ADB and the WAPDA officials, another mission would soon negotiate details about the lending and the development work of the project. He pointed out that on the advice of the ADB, WAPDA has invited fresh bids last month for the construction of Bhasha Dam in a bid to give an opportunity to more companies to participate in the bidding process. The cost of the project is about US$11.30 billion dollars, he said. According to WAPDA officials, the World Bank has not shown any interest in lending money for this project. In November last year, 11 multi-national and local companies had submitted their expressions of interest to undertake designing, construction and supervision of different projects of Bhasha Dam, but the fresh bids have been invited to encourage more companies to participate in the bidding process, he said. Bhasha Dam CEO said the construction of the dam could be started in 2010 as the ADB had promised to start disbursing the loan amount from next year. Bhasha Dam is proposed on the Indus River 315-km upstream of Tarbela Dam, about 180 km below the town of Gilgit and 40 km downstream of Chilas, the district of Diamir in Northern Areas. The 272-metre high Diamer-Bhasha Dam will be the highest roller compacted concrete (RCC) dam in the world with more than 100-kilometre long reservoirs. Live storage capacity of the reservoir will be 6.4 MAF. After completion it will generate 4,500 MW electricity. In November last year, the ECNEC, headed by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, approved a plan to build Bhasha Dam at an enhanced cost of US$12.6 billion, against the initial estimate of US$6.40 billion, prepared by the Shaukat Aziz government in 2005, indicating delay has led to enormous increase in its cost.