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Construction of dams — solution for water, energy shortfall

Economic experts reveal that the water issues presently faced by Pakistan was bigger than that of the energy sector have. And no doubt the factor is getting worse every day. Now the new government of Pakistan should urgently increase its water storage capacity. Second important issue which we all know that energy crisis, both issues could be resolved by the construction of Daimer-Bhasha Dam and Mohmand Dam.

Experts calculated that approximately 22,000 to 24,000 megawatt (MW) electricity is needed in Pakistan. This demand grows up to 5 percent yearly. It means 1,000 or 1,200MW shortfall is added. Unluckily, the country has never been able to generate to greater than 18,000MW energy. The previous government stated to produce almost 24,000MW electricity in Pakistan. But even National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC), which is an institution of the government, does not confirm it. Different energy sources also mention that there is a difference of 6,000ME between the production and the transmission of power. It is expressed in the form of load-shedding across Pakistan.

The outgoing government has completed various energy projects in its five years. But the difference between demand and supply which was 5,000MW during 2013, has reached up to the level of 6,000MW in 2018. Statistics also show that the previous government has completed only 2.0 hydro and atomic power projects that were inaugurated by the previous governments and were on the stage of completion during 2013.

Sources also said that the circular debts have grown to the level of Rs400 billion. The Government of Pakistan could complete the wind, hydro and solar projects of 2,000MW with this amount. But upon completion, Diamer-Bhasha Dam would, produce 4,500MW of electricity by environmentally clean hydropower generation; store an extra 8,500,000 acre feet of water for the country that will 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.

Experts also calculated that it will have a height of 272 meters spillway with 14 gates each 11.5 m x 16.24 m. The gross capacity of the reservoir will be 8,100,000 acre feet, with a live storage of 6,400,000 acre feet. 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 4500MW. Historically, Bhasha Dam was first proclaimed during 2006 at an initial project cost of $6 billion. The project since has been green-lit and shelved five times as the country faced fiscal constraints because of debt repayment crises in 2008 and 2013.

 

Economic advisors also calculated that the cost of the Diamer-Bhasha dam was predicted at $12.6 billion in November 2008. An amount of Rs 27.824 billion is required for the acquisition of land & resettlement of the people to be affected in the wake of the construction of the dam. Under the proposed project, Rs 10.76 billion will be invested for the acquisition of agriculture-barren land, tree & nurseries and Rs 1.638 billion to be used for properties and infrastructure, Rs 8.8 billion for establishment of 9 model villages, Rs 62.119 million for pay & allowances for administrative arrangements, and Rs.17.7 million for contingent administrative expenses.

Statistics show that the project also includes an escalation cost of Rs 2.234 billion at the rate of 6 percent per year for 5 years and interest of Rs 4.309 billion during the implementation at the rate of 9 percent. Between 2007 and 2012, interest was shown by friendly states like; China, US, Russia, and Kuwait to assist increase financing for the project. However, as the project is placed in the Diamer district of Gilgit Baltistan, international project finance convention demanded that the country seek an NOC from India, because of the disputed status of the territory.

It is also said that during the previous 7 years, India has lobbied heavily by diplomatic channels to discourage foreign support for the project; leading ADB, World Bank and even Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development to withdraw funding pledge. On 14 November 2017, Pakistan dropped its bid to have the dam financed under CPEC framework as China placed strict conditions including on the ownership of the project. China had projected the cost of the dam to be $14 billion and for securitization of its investment China wanted Pakistan to pledge another operational dam to it. Presently, during July, 2018, the Supreme Court of Pakistan directed the Government of Pakistan to begin construction on the dam, also the Mohmand Dam, to resolve a water shortage. Furthermore, to complete these projects shortly, the Chief Justice of the court gave a donation of Rs 1 million for the construction of the two dams. Now the government of Pakistan set up a fund for the construction of the Diamer-Bhasha Dam.

Conclusion

The previous governments have been focusing on non-development projects. If it had spent this amount to build dams in Pakistan so they can remove the water and energy crises from the country. Constructing not only two dams the Government of Pakistan should seriously focus to construct more dams in every provinces of Pakistan. Regional disparity is the main hurdle to build the dams in our country which should be removed.

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