Saturday, July 10, 2010

World Bank refuses to fund Diamer-Bhasha Dam

ISLAMABAD: The World Bank has refused to fund the Diamer-Bhasha Dam due to, what they claim, is the controversial legal status of Gilgit-Baltistan territory.

The revelation was made by Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) official who was briefing the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Inter-Provisional Coordination on Friday.

The committee meeting was chaired by Mir Ahmedan Khan Bugti and discussed existing water sources and proposals for building new dams.

Briefing the committee about the status of the Diamer-Bhasha project, the WAPDA official informed the committee that due to objections raised by India over the legal reforms introduced in Gilgit-Baltistan, the World Bank had refused to finance the project.

The committee was further informed that over $30 to 40 billion would be required in the next 15 years to build dams in the country for generating electricity and for increasing water storage capacity.

“The bank’s refusal to provide funds has virtually endangered the practicability of the Diamer-Bhasha Dam on whose feasibility and technical reports huge amounts have already been spent since 2006,” sources privy to a high-level meeting later told Daily Times.

“The total cost of the Diamer-Bhasha dam is $12.6 billion (according to estimates in 2008) and it will have a storage capacity of 6.3 million acre feet of water. It will have a power generation capacity of 4,500 megawatts,” the sources said.

IRSA: Shafqat Masood, the Indus River System Regulatory Authority (IRSA) acting chairman, briefed the committee about the differences between Punjab and Sindh over Indus water distribution.

He told the committee members that the Chashma-Jhelum Link Canal had not yet been opened due to objections raised by provinces. However, he said IRSA had increased the water share of Sindh to 190,000 cusecs.

Constuction of Diamer-Bhasha Dam to be anaugurated in July
Skardu—The much awaited construction work on Diamer-Bhasha Dam will be inaugurated by President Asif Ali Zardari in the second week of July at an impressive ceremony at the site of the multi-billion dollar dam. The high profile ceremony for the first Mega Project of the present PPP led Government will be attended by Chief Ministers of the four Provinces, Governor and Chief Minister of Gilgit-Baltistan, Prime Minister of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Federal Ministers in addition to senior officials.

A decision to this affect was taken at a meeting between Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Syed Mehdi Shah and Chairman of WAPDA Shakil Durrani in Islamabad on Saturday. Deputy Speaker of GB Legislative Assembly Jameel Ahgmad, Health Minister Haji Gulbar Khan, PML-N MLA Haji Janbaz Khan, member of the Legislative Assembly Saeeda Afzal and Tekhedar Amin were also present during the meeting.

It was decided in the meeting that WAPDA colony will be constructed in Chilas and priority would be given to local construction companies and contractors for different jobs related to the construction of the dam. This would help to improve the financial and economic position of the local people.

The meeting also agreed that during construction of the dam and afterwards, local people would be provided jobs on priority basis. Special quota would also be fixed for the local in different categories of jobs so that people of Gilgit-Baltistan could fully benefit from the mega project which would cost over $ eight billion.

Earliar, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has inaugurated the Diamer-Bhasha dam on April 26, 2006. All four chief ministers of provinces and federal ministers were present on the occasion.

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