Govt acquires $1bn land for Diamir-Bhasha Dam

ISLAMABAD – The government has procured land worth one billion dollars from its own resources for the Diamer-Bhasha Dam, and work would kick-start by the end of this year.

“After the Tarbella and Mangla dams, nothing was done for water storage, and today Pakistan has 30-day capacity, and upon completion of the Diamer-Bhasha, it will reach 90 days,” according to official sources in the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms here on Wednesday.

Diamir-Bhasha Dam, one of the most important energy projects is likely to be part of second phase of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The project would not only generate 4500 megawatts of electricity but would also serve as a huge water reservoir for Pakistan.

“After a decade, Pakistan is expected to face acute shortage of water so in order to prevent food starvation, this project would be developed at any cost.” The government assigns the highest priority to the dam because a serious water crisis is looming in next five to 10 years which will be much bigger than electricity crisis.

The foundation stone of the dam, a gravity dam on the River Indus in Gilgit-Baltistan, was laid on October 18, 2011. Upon completion, the dam would be the highest roller compacted concrete (RCC) dam in the world. The dam site is situated near a place called Bhasha in Gilgit Baltistan’s Diamir district, hence the name.

The dam would produce 4,500 megawatts of electricity through environmentally clean hydropower generation; store an extra 8,500,000 acre feet (10.5 km3) of water for Pakistan that would be used for irrigation and drinking; extend the life of Tarbela Dam located downstream by 35 years; and control flood damage by the River Indus downstream during high floods.

It will have a height of 272 metres spillway with 14 gates each 11.5m x 16.24m. The gross capacity of the reservoir will be 8,100,000 acre feet (10.0 km3), with a live storage of 6,400,000 acre feet (7.9 km3). Two underground power houses are being proposed, one on each side of the main dam having six turbines on each side with total installed capacity 4500 megawatts.

In January 2006, the government announced the decision to construct five multi-purpose storage dams during the next 10-12 years. According to the plan, Diamir-Bhasha Dam project was proposed in the first phase. In November 2008, the executive committee of the National Economic Council formally approved the project. Council of Common Interests, a constitutional body representing the provinces, also approved the construction of the dam.

The cost of the dam was estimated at $12.6 billion. Under the proposed project, Rs 10.76 billion will be spent for the acquisition of agriculture-barren land, tree and nurseries and Rs 1.638 billion to be utilised for properties and infrastructure, Rs 8.8 billion for the establishment of nine model villages, Rs 62.119 million for pay and allowances for administrative arrangements, and Rs 17.7 million for contingent administrative expenses.

Detailed drawings of the dam were completed by March 2008. The project is located on the Indus River, about 315km upstream of the Tarbela Dam, 165km downstream of the northern area capital Gilgit and 40km downstream of Chilas.

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