LAHORE – The Wapda Chairman Raghib Shah has said that government is implementing multi-purpose Diamer Bhasha Dam as a priority project.

“Diamer project is at priority because it will not only provide water for agriculture and help control floods but also generate low-cost hydel electricity,” said Raghib Shah while responding to a question of a PAF officer. A delegation of the 26th Air War Course of Pakistan Air Force War College, Karachi visited Wapda House on Thursday. The delegation was led by Air Commodore Nadeem Shujaat Khan.

There are reports that international lending agencies are not willing to invest on the project owing to the false Indian propaganda that the dam is being constructed in disputed territory. The government has so far could not arrange donor and is losing interest on the construction of the dam. The delay is increasing cost of the project in billions of rupees.

“The Pakistan Water and Power Development Authority is implementing a master plan for optimal utilisation of the indigenous water and hydropower resources to supplement water for irrigated agriculture and add a good quantum of low cost hydel electricity to the national grid,” said the authority chairman while addressing the delegation.

He added that a number of water and hydropower projects with cumulative water storage capacity of 12 million acre feet and power generation capacity of about 20,000 megawatt (MW) were under various stages of implementation (i.e. from construction to detailed engineering design). Besides, 400MW electricity to the system from the end of 2012 to the mid 2013, Wapda also planned to add 5,000MW within next five years and another 14,000MW by 2020, subject to the condition if funds would be made available for this purpose. “The addition will be made through under-construction 969MW Neelum-Jhelum and 106MW Golen Gol, 4,500MW Diamer Bhasha Dam, 1,410MW Tarbela 4th Extension, 4,320 MW Dasu, Mangla Up-gradation Project, 7,100MW Bunji, 740MW Munda, 84MW Kurram Tangi Dam etc,” he added.

Responding to a question on Bhasha dam, the Chairman said the process to acquire land both in Gilgit Balitistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was continuing, while the work on 14 local contracts was in full swing for construction of model villages for affectees, Wapda offices and colonies, contractor’s camps, road, etc. in the project area. Expression of Interest (EoI) had also been called for consultancy of the project, he further said.

The Chairman also informed the delegation that the World Bank had shown interest to provide funds for Dasu Hydropower Project following completion of its detailed engineering designs in March 2013. The Wapda learning from the past was actively perusing different options to arrange funds for its projects, he held.

Responding to another question regarding impact of climate change on water flows, Shah apprised the delegation that Wapda was setting up glacier monitoring system in high ranges of the glaciers for the purpose with support of the World Bank and other financial institutions and donor agencies. The delegation was further informed that a glacier monitoring system was already functioning in the low glacial ranges and providing useful data in this regard.