Research Analyst
Feb 13 - 19, 2012

Diamer-Bhasha Dam is an under construction roller compacted concrete (RCC) dam on the River Indus in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan. The dam will have a height of 272 meters spillway with fourteen gates each 11.5 m x 16.24 m. The gross capacity of the reservoir will be 8,100,000 acre feet (10.0 km3), with a live storage of 6,400,000 acre feet (7.9 km3).

Two underground power houses are proposed, one on each side of the main dam having six turbines on each side with total installed capacity of 4500 MW.

The estimated cost of the project, in 2011, was US$11.19 billion with an estimated completion time of 12 years.

Upon completion, Diamer-Bhasha dam would be the highest RCC dam in the world. It would produce 4,500 megawatts of electricity through environmentally-clean hydropower generation, store an extra 8,500,000 acre feet (10.5 km3) of water 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.

The former President of Pakistan Gen. Pervez Musharraf during his national address in January 2006 announced five multi-purpose storages in the country during 10-12 years.


Gomal Zam Dam Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 12,829 1.14 163,086 70 % Physically completed
Greater Thal Canal Punjab 30,467 - 355,000 Phase-I, completed
Rainee Canal Sindh 18,862 - 113,690 91 % Physically comp. Phase-I
Kachhi Canal Balochistan 31,204 - 102,000 60 % physically comp. Phase-I
Raising of Mangla Dam AJ&K 62,553 2.90 713,000All over Pakistan 93 % physically completed
Satpara Dam Multipurpose Skardu 4,397 0.05 15,536 93% physically completed
Right Bank Outfall Drain (RBOD) -   - - -
RBOD-I Sindh 14,707 - - 87% Physically Completed
RBOD-II Sindh 29,014 - - 62% Physically Completed
RBOD-III Balochistan 6,535 - - 72% Physically Completed

During 2008, the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) gave permission to proceed to the Diamer-Bhasha dam project. Pakistan's Council of Common Interests (CCI), a constitutional body representing all provinces, also approved the construction of the dam.

Its foundation stone was laid by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in October 2011.

The incumbent minister for water and power informed the senate that physical work on the dam has already been started and it would be completed in seven years.

Further, the land for construction of colonies and other infrastructure has also been acquired and payment was also made to some victims in the current fiscal year. Remaining payment would be made during the next fiscal year. Wapda has prepared a master plan to construct a number of storages including Munda and Kurram Tangi dams in near future besides early completion of Mangla Raising Project and Gomal Zam dams.

Wapda was also undertaking construction of small and medium dams nationwide. The minister also informed that some funds were released last week for Kurram Tangi dam that would be completed in next three years.

The USAID has also shown interest to provide assistance for the project.

Pakistan today has one of the world's fastest growing populations. Due to insufficient water 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 km3) due to sedimentation. It is estimated that by the end of the year 2012, this loss would increase to 6,000,000 acre feet (7.4 km3), almost equal to the original combined capacity of Mangla and Chashma reservoirs.

Due to the 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. The construction of the Diamer Bhasha dam is a step being taken to prevent the emergence of this scenario.

The national electricity demand is above 17,000 MW, which is estimated to cross 22,000 MW in the coming years. A large-scale injection of power thus becomes inevitable. Hydropower will provide the required electricity at affordable price.


The dam will provide clean and cheap energy, and lessen the country's dependence on thermal power sources. The construction and operation will create massive employment opportunities and economic activities.