Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday approved in principle the financing plan of the much-delayed 4500 megawatt Diamer-Basha Dam project on the Indus river in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and asked officials to expediate its construction.
Secretary Ministry of Water and Power Mohammad Younus Dagha presented the dam's financial proposal to the prime minister.The dam will be constructed in Gilgit-Baltistan's Diamer district.
Sharif instructed Dagha and the secretary of planning and finance to expedite the completion of the financial process and begin the physical process before the end of next year, Radio Pakistan reported.
The financial plan, made on a self-reliance basis, proposes that construction of the dam will receive a portion of the required funding from allocations made by the Public Sector Development Programme and from resources generated by Water and Power Development Authority.
The rest of the financing for the dam will be arranged on a commercial basis by the Ministry of Water and Power either through Wapda or through leasing its existing projects.
The construction of Diamer-Bhasha Dam has been considerably delayed. It was approved for construction by Council of Common Interests in the year 2009.
The Diamer Basha Dam will provide 8.1 Million Acre-Feet of gross storage of which 6.4 MAF will be the live storage and a capacity to produce 4500 MWs of cheap and clean energy.
The storage capacity in the existing dams in Pakistan is fast depleting due to silting and the country is losing on its agricultural production after every few years due to dry season and needs to be overcome by constructing more storages.
The project was delayed and the government of the then President Asif Ali Zardari re-launched it to complete it in 2019. However, again it was delayed due to lack of resources.
It was originally scheduled for completion in 2016, and then 2019, when a decision about its construction was taken by the military government of Gen Pervez Musharraf, but work on the project did not progress at all during his rule.
On October, the Asian Development Bank had refused to commit funds for $14 billion dam project, two years after the World Bank declined to fund the project following Islamabad's refusal to seek an No Objection Certificate from India.
India, which considers any construction in PoK as illegal, had earlier lodged protests with Pakistan as well as China and the US to stop funding any infrastructure project on a territory that is being held illegally by the neighbouring country.