Research Analyst
Sep 21 - Oct 04, 2009

Government of Pakistan has announced to construct Diamer Basha Dam. Diamer-Bhasha Dam will be the highest roller compacted concrete dam in the world, with height of 272 meters spillway, fourteen (14) gates each 11.5 m x 16.24 m and a reservoir of about 7,500,000 acre feet (9.25◊109 m3) with live storage of more than 6,400,000 acre feet (7.89◊109 m3).

Mean annual discharge of Indus River at the site is 50,000,000 acre feet (6.2◊1010m3). Thus, the dam will impound 15% of the annual river flow. The dam project would cover an area of 110 km2 and extend 100 km upstream of the dam site up to Raikot Bridge on Karakoram Highway (KKH).

The gross capacity of the reservoir will be 8.1 MAF, with a live storage of 6.4 MAF. Two underground powerhouses are proposed, one on each side of the main dam having six turbines on each side with total installed capacity of 4500 MW.

Scheduled completion year of the project is 2016 with start of work from 2009, at a tentative cost of US $ 12.6 bn. The project is located on Indus River, about 315 km upstream of Tarbela Dam, 165 km downstream of the Northern Area capital Gilgit and 40 km downstream of Chilas.


In January 2006, the government had announced to construct five multi-purpose storages in the country during next 10-12 years. Diamer Basha Dam Project will be undertaken in the first phase. On completion of detailed design and tender documents, the construction of Diamer-Bhasha Dam will commence.

Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) on November 2008 gave go-ahead to the Diamer-Bhasha Dam project. Work on the dam would begin at the end of 2009 and the total cost of the project has been estimated at $12.6 bn. The deadline for completion is 2016.

International companies, including three from China, have been asked to submit tenders for the construction of Bhasha Dam.


Dam Type Zoned earth-rock fill with central core
Location 315 km upstream of Tarbela dam; 165 km downstream of Gligit and 40km downstream of Chilas.
Height 200 metres (660 feet) above riverbed
Length of crest 3,018 feet
Reservoir Area 27,700 acres
Catchment Area 152,100 km2
Gross Head 145 metres (476 feet)
Average Flow 1,970 m3/sec (69,600 ft3/sec)
Design Flood Discharge 19,300 m3/sec (682,000 cusecs)
Total Storage Capacity 9.0 km3 (7.3 MAF)
Live Storage Capacity 7.0 km3 (5.7 MAF)
Total Volume of Dam 58 million yards3
Total Volume of Fill 44 million m3
Installed Cap. (Hydropower) 4,500MW from 12 Units
Energy Generated 19.00 GWh
Cement Required 12mn tons
Various sources


Agriculture is the backbone of Pakistan's economy. Today Pakistan is among one of the World's fastest growing population, estimated at around 170 mn at the start of 2009. Due to lack of large river regulation capability through sizeable storages, the country is already facing serious shortages in food grains.

Given the present trend, Pakistan could soon become one of the food deficit countries in the near future. Therefore, there is a dire need to build storages for augmenting agriculture production.

Tarbela, Mangla, and Chashma reservoirs have already lost about 5,000,000 acre-feet (6.2◊109 m3) due to sedimentation. It is estimated that by the year 2012, this loss would increase to 6,000,000 acre feet (7.4◊109 m3), almost equal to the original combined capacity of Mangla and Chashma reservoirs.

Due to complete stoppage of any sizable multi-purpose storage development after commissioning of Tarbela Dam in 1976, sustainability of existing irrigated agriculture of Pakistan is in serious jeopardy.

Government has taken a very bold initiative by making the decision to construct Diamer Basha Dam. The present demand of electricity in the country is above 19,000 MW, which is estimated to cross 22,000 MW by the year 2010. A large-scale injection of power thus becomes inevitable.

Hydropower will provide the required electricity at affordable price. Contribution of 4500 MW power from Diamer Bhasha Dam will go a long way in enhancing energy efficiency.


A huge amount of Rs 27.824 bn is required for the acquisition of land and resettlement of the people to be affected in the wake of construction of the dam. Under the proposed project, Rs 10.76 bn will be spent for the acquisition of agriculture-barren land, tree and nurseries and Rs 1.638 bn to be utilised for properties & infrastructure, Rs 8.8 bn for establishment of nine model villages, Rs 62.119 mn for pay & allowances and administrative arrangements, and Rs.17.7 mn for contingent administrative expenses.

The project also includes an escalation cost of Rs 2.234 bn at the rate of 6 percent per year for five years and interest of Rs 4.309 bn during the implementation at the rate of 9 percent.


The construction of Bhasha dam will enable 6,400,000 acre feet annual surface face water storage for supplementing irrigation supplies during low flow periods. The dam will further help in harnessing renewable source of clean and cheap energy through installed capacity of 4500 MW and will help in the reduction of dependence on thermal power, thus saving foreign exchange.

Employment opportunity, particularly to the locals, during the construction and operation will be in full swing and the creation of massive infrastructure will lead to uplifting of the area and standard of living of the people.