by Ahmad Khan
The Diamer Basha dam is situated on the river Indus about 315km upstream from Terbela dam, 165km down stream from Gilgit city and 40km down stream from Chilas. The proposed dam would have reservoir of about 7500,000 acre feet which will impound 15% of the annual flow of river Indus, with a gross water capacity of 1.8 million acre feet. This dam project would cover an area of 110 km^2. The total cost for the construction is $US12.6 billion.
The economic significance of the project would be analyzed by its direct and indirect effects on the economic activities of the region and the country. Pakistan has been trying to maintain its position as an agricultural country among the competitive economies, and for this, it needs proper irrigation system and adequate water supply to enhance the agricultural productivity. As agriculture plays vital role in the economic uplift of the country. Our agricultural productions need to be increase as it is the demand of fast growing population. The agricultural sector contributes about 25% to GDP and provides 50% employment to the total labour force. From among the newly estimated population of 172,800,000 only 32.34% is urban and rest of 67.66% population resides in rural areas where the livelihood of the people is associated with agriculture. On the other hand we earn 60% of total value of exports from exporting agricultural products. Thus carrying out the project would be favorable for the country to step forward in agricultural sector and to get recovery from economic recession prevailing in the country particularly.
In the present scenario the unemployment rate reached at 7.4% plus substantial underemployment while the inflation is over 15.3%. With reference to current unemployment it needs to be reduce by expanding different sector of socio-economy.
Thus, working on Diamer Basha dam will provide sufficient employment to the local people and it will create massive infrastructure leading to overall socio-economic uplift of the area and the standard of living of the people. It is evident from researches that other than market forces increase the price of energy has boosted inflation on the globe. China a faster growing economy is dominating the world market with its products even in Pakistan at relative low prices because of availability of electricity in abundant as it utilizes its natural resources. Though we have enough resources of water to produce thermal energy, the thing is to make investment. In this regard Diamer Basha dam has the capacity to generate 4500mw electricity as a positive externality.Though gas has been the dominant source of energy for Pakistan. It accounted for 47.5%of primary energy demand of 2007, where oil accounted by 30.7%, hyro electric energy at 12.9% and coal with a 7.9% share of PED. We have margin to increase the share of hydro electric in PED at a comparative advantage. A country’s progress with stability is measured by economic growth with other factors, where energy is the vital element in economic growth in this technically advance world. The front line economies are paying attentions to generate domestic renewable energy and to lessen their reliance on foreign oil as mentioned by Obama in his inaugural speech.
The renewable energy scheme like (hydro-power) is a healthier production of energy without any environmental hazard. In the generation of hydro power we have enough resources of water in form of rivers and the glacier. Thus government must initiate such project to generate hydro power energy as per demand in the country exist, and Diamer Basha dam must be the start of such mega projects.the government must ensure that the rolyaty of this dam goes to the people of Northern Areas.
Ahmad Khan is a student of Government College Lahore. He belongs to Ishkoman valley.