ISLAMABAD

WAPDA has asked the government to provide an additional Rs16.5 billion during the current fiscal for land acquisition for the construction of 4500MW Diamer-Bhasha Dam project.

It is to be noted here that the amount of Rs 10 billion, which the government has already allocated for land acquisition of the project, has not yet been given to the authority. Wapda has asked the federal government to provide Rs 26.5 billion for Diamer-Bhasha Dam project instead of Rs 10 billion allocated in the PSDP 2015-16, official sources told The Nation here yesterday.

“Ironically, WAPDA has made a demand for an additional Rs16.5 billion at a time when the project has not received a single penny out of Rs 10 billion allocated in PSDP 2015-16, during the first four and half months of the current fiscal,” the source maintained. The demand by WAPDA came in the quarterly review meetings of the PSDP 2015-16 held in the Ministry of Planning Development and Reforms here.

The Minister for Planning and Reforms had earlier announced that land acquisition for the Bhasha dam was completed but only 17.5 per cent of private land has been acquired so far, according to the source.

There are two kinds of lands to be acquired for the construction of Bhasha dam, one is the government-owned land and the second is private-owned land, the source maintained. “Out of 19068 acres of government land 17214 acres have been acquired for the project, whereas out of 18357 acres of private land, up to now, only 3210 acres have been acquired,” the source explained. The total government and private land acquisition by WAPDA is 58 per cent, the source added.

With a storage capacity of about 8 million acre feet (MAF) and projected electricity generation of 4,500MWs, Diamer-Bhasha, to be constructed in Gilgit Baltistan, will cost 14 billion dollars. A total of 32 villages with a collective population of 25,000 people will be affected due to the construction of the dam. Tarbela dam was the last major dam project completed in Pakistan four decades ago and now it’s high time to build new water reservoirs as storage capacities of both big reservoirs, Tarbela and Mangla dams, have drastically depleted due to silting over the years.

Although work on Bhasha dam was inaugurated twice, but the authorities have failed to move an inch from the land acquisition. After years of foot-dragging and delays, the present government made an allocation for the Bhasha dam in the PSDP 2014-15 but it was not utilized and the fund was diverted to other project. In the PSDP 2015-16 the government allocated Rs 10 billion for the land requisition but no funds have been released for the project, until now.

The experts have already warned that if the government failed to construct big water reservoirs like Bhasha in the next eight to ten years the country is going to lose the fertile land of Punjab and Sindh as the farmers will be unable to cultivate water intensive crops such as sugarcane and rice.

RS4.8B CONTRACT FOR DASU PROJECT COLONY SIGNED

Staff Reporter from Lahore: WAPDA Tuesday signed a contract worth Rs.4.8 billion with China Railways First Group (CRFG) for construction of project colony and allied infrastructure therein for Dasu Hydropower Project.

The contract includes construction of project offices, residential houses, hostels, rest house, hospital, community centre, parks, and playground which will be completed in about two years, said Wapda spokesperson.

Dasu Hydropower Project General Manager (WAPDA) Haji Muhammad Farooq Ahmed and CRFG General Manager Xian Zhengjum signed the agreement on behalf of their organisations at WAPDA House. WAPDA Chairman Zafar Mahmood, Member (Water) Muhammad Shoaib Iqbal, Member (Power) Badrul Munir Murtiza, senior WAPDA officers and representatives of the project consultants participated in the ceremony.

Speaking on the occasion, WAPDA Chairman said that this is another good day for Dasu Hydropower Project, as the fourth contract of the project has been awarded through a transparent system for bid evaluation. He urged upon the contractor to complete the works within the stipulated time. The Chairman further said that expression of interest (EoI) submitted by various construction firms of international repute for civil works of the dam and powerhouse are being processed, while construction on the dam and powerhouse will commence as soon as the required process is completed.

The contractors of three contracts, which were awarded earlier, mobilised at sites for construction of 132-KV transmission line from Duber Khwar Hydel Power Station to Dasu project site, relocation of Karakoram Highway and construction of the right bank access road.