Work on two key dams to start this fiscal year: govt

ISLAMABAD .: In the wake of the apex court’s order for immediate construction of Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand dams, the government on Monday said construction work on these two dams would start in the ongoing fiscal year.

“Construction work on Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand dams will be started in fiscal year 2018-19,” said a press release issued after a briefing given to caretaker Prime Minister Nasirul Mulk by the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) Chairman Lt Gen (Retd) Muzammil Hussain.

“Diamer-Bhasha Dam Project has a gross water storage capacity of 8.1 million acre feet (MAF) and power generation capacity of 4,500 megawatts (MW). Mohmand Dam Hydropower Project will store 1.2 MAF water and generate 800MW electricity,” said the statement from Prime Minister’s Office.

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The 1,410MW Tarbela 5th Extension, the 2160MW-Stage II of Dasu, the 7100MW-Bunji and the Stage II of multipurpose Kurram Tangi Dam are among the ready-for-construction projects.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Supreme Court directed the federal government to immediately start construction of Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand dams.

“The need for water reservoirs is not only expedient but also essential for the survival of the people and economy of Pakistan. All those present in the court, including officials of various departments and experts on the subject, are unanimous in this regard.

“They are also unanimous on the point that according to the decision of the Council of Common Interests (CCI) the Diamer-Bhasha dam and pursuant to the approval of the ECNEC (Executive Committee of the National Economic Council) both (this and) and Mohmand Dam must be built on an urgent basis by the federal government.

Armed forces to make donations for construction of Diamer-Bhasha, Mohmand dams

“In this regard, there is no dispute or discord of any nature amongst the provinces”, a four-member SC bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, stated in its order.

On the CJP’s order and under his supervision, a bank account ‘Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand Dam Fund-2018’ was set up at the State Bank of Pakistan to collect donations for the construction of the dams.

The CJP also personally donated one million rupees in the said account. The funding status of this account shows that it had over $1.3 million or Rs13,26,672 million by July 5. The Senate Chairman and Acting President Sadiq Sanjrani also announced on Monday to personally donate Rs1.5 million.

In addition, the armed forces also announced donations for the two dams.  “Pakistan Armed Forces contributing to Diamir-Bhasha and Mohmand Dam Fund. Officers of Pak Army, Navy and Air Force will contribute their two-day pay while soldiers one-day pay to the announced fund for this national cause,” said the Inter Services Public Relations chief Major General Asif Ghafoor in a Twitter message.

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Briefing to PM

In his briefing, Wapda chairman said the authority had completed four mega projects from August 2017 onwards to irrigate 72,000 acres of ‘virgin land’ in Dera Bugti, Balochistan and to add 2,487MW of hydel electricity to the national grid.

These projects included Phase 1 of Kachhi Canal, Golen Gol, Tarbela 4th Extension and Neelum Jhelum Hydropower Project. Stage 1 of Kurram Tangi Dam Project will be completed in 2020, while the 2,160MW, Stage 1 of Dasu Hydropower Project is scheduled to start electricity generation by 2023.

The 1410MW Tarbela 5th Extension, the 2,160MW-Stage II of Dasu, the 7,100MW-Bunji and the Stage II of multipurpose Kurram Tangi Dam are among the ready-for-construction projects.

Recently, on account of rapid rise in the temperature, power outages have increased manifolds, apparently undermining the former Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) government’s claims of not only ending the load-shedding but also producing surplus electricity of up to 3,000 MW.

Last month, Secretary Water Resources Shamail Ahmed Khawaja briefed PM Mulk that the availability of water in the country was gradually improving with the rising temperature and the melting of glacial snow, and the hydel generation was likely to improve in the coming days.

However, frequent power outages are still persistent across the country.

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