DevelopmentGilgit - Baltistan

Foundation stone laid for Diamer-Bhasha dam

By Farooq Ahmed Khan 

CHILAS: Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani said here on Tuesday that the $12 billion Diamer-Bhasha dam on the Indus would produce 4,500MW of electricity and store over 8 million acre feet of water and help meet the country’s future power and agricultural requirements.

Speaking at the foundation stone-laying ceremony of the world’s highest concrete dam, he said he had undertaken consultations with various quarters to ensure that the project did not suffer the same fate as the Kalabagh dam which had fallen victim to political bickering.

The prime minister praised the local people who would have to sacrifice their ancestral land for a great national cause. But, he said, the project would play a great role in alleviating their sense of deprivation.

The prime minister said the vision of late prime ministers Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Banazir Bhutto was being carried forward and the dam was the result of that vision. He recalled the political reforms the two leaders had introduced, particularly the 1974-75 Northern Areas Framework Ordinance.

He praised the people of Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir and their political leadership for their united stand in favour of initiating the project.

The prime minister said matters relating to land compensation had been settled by a committee and any other issue cropping up would be resolved in consultation with the local leadership.

The prime minister said that China would construct the 165-km Jaglot-Skardu and 135-km Jaglot-Sazin roads.

On this occasion, Mr Gilani announced Rs300 million grant for Diamer and said an engineering faculty would be set up at the KKH University which would be eventually upgraded to an engineering university.

He ordered the work on a cadet college in Chillas to be speeded up and announced an additional amount of Rs1 billion for the government of Gilgit-Baltistan for immediate overhauling of the KKH and other roads.

The prime minister directed Wapda to initiate work on upgrading the DHQ hospitals in Chilas and Skardu and a public school in Ganche.

He said talks were also under way with the governments of Afghanistan and Tajikistan for construction of a road to provide connectivity with Central Asian Republics.

Former federal minister for water and power Raja Pervez Ashraf told PTV that the government had already earmarked Rs16 billion in the budget for the Diamer-Bhasha dam which would be completed in 10 years, adds APP.

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