LAHORE – PPP leader Munir Ahmad Khan on Sunday said the nation would provide the required funds for the construction of Bhasha Dam if international financial institutions did not oblige the government in this regard.

“The whole nation will contribute to Bhasha Dam as it is contributing to the Neelam-Jhelum project,” Munir said while addressing a news conference. The project was vital for the country and the government would build it whether the lenders extend help or not, he maintained.

“The government knows that the dam would benefit the country by Rs1.3 billion a year through cheap hydel electricity, $635 million through water for irrigation and $300 million through carbon credits, besides saving of $2.85 billion under the head of oil import that was otherwise needed to generate equal quantity of electrify. This $12 billion project would return its entire cost within eight years,” Munir explained.

The government, he said, was committed to early completion of the dam, with or without foreign funding. “That is precisely why the PPP had the project approved from the Ecnec in 2009,” he maintained.

 “President Zardari believes that the Bhasha Dam project is a gateway to the nation’s progress and critical to meeting its energy needs,” said Munir, adding that the PPP government believes that the dam will bring about a revolution in the agriculture sector, as well as in agri-based industries offering tens of thousands of job opportunities.

The PPP leader said the government had already started earmarking money for the project and acquiring land for the purpose.

“The PC-I for the by-pass road, which is a prerequisite for the dam’s construction, has already been approved at a cost of Rs3.8 billion. On the recommendation of the lenders, the PPP government got the project approved from the Council of Common Interests (CCI) and the Central Development Working Party (CDWP). On top of it, the then prime minister performed ground breaking of the project on October 18,” the PPP leader further said.

Munir Ahmad Khan informed the media that Bhashah Dam was the second biggest project in Pakistan’s history after the Pakistan Steel Mills, to be completed at a cost of $12 billion, and it would generate 4,500MW cheap hydel electricity, besides providing over 6MAF water for agriculture.