LAHORE - The Central Development Working Party (CDWP) of the Planning Commission has recommended Diamer Bhasha Dam Project for approval to the ECNEC. Diamer Bhasha Dam is the largest project ever constructed in the country. After commissioning of Tarbela Dam in 1976, no large water storage project has been developed in Pakistan. In order to cope with the increasing demand of water and power in the country, a special meeting of the CDWP was held to consider the multibillion US dollar Diamer Bhasha Dam Project. The meeting was presided over by the Planning Commissioning Deputy Chairman Sardar Assef Ahmed Ali Khan. Construction of Diamer-Bhasha Dam is a part of long-term strategy of the President Asif Ali Zardari and the Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani for maximizing the water and hydropower resources of the country. The project will be constructed with an estimated cost of about US$ 11.3 billion. Construction work on Diamer Bhasha Dam Project will start next year and bring on its completion a new era of economic development in Pakistan. With a live storage capacity of 6.4 million acre feet (MAF) of water and a generation capacity of 4500 MW , Diamer Bhasha Dam will provide 18000 Gwh annually to the National Grid. Construction of this project will also have a very significant impact on the existing generation capacity of Tarbela Power House. Consequently, annual generation of Tarbela will be increased by another 1100 Gwh per year. It is pertinent to mention that WAPDA, at present, is fully focused on the development of three major water and hydropower projects in Pakistan including Diamer Bhasha Dam. Mangla Dam Raising Project is nearing completion and will provide 2.9 MAF additional water for irrigation besides generating 644 Gwh more electricity from the existing power house. Work on the tunnels of 969-MW Neelum-Jhelum Hydroelectric Project is in full swing. It may be mentioned that four other projects of more than 400 MW including Khan Khwar, Allai Khwar, Duber Khwar and Jinnah hydropower projects are at the advanced stage of completion. These projects will start generation from early 2010 onwards. Feasibility studies of 7100-MW Bunji and 4320-MW Dasu hydropower projects have also been completed, while preparation of detailed engineering designs and tender documents of these projects are in progress.