Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Sunday instructed the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) and the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) to complete the Diamer-Bhasha Dam project by 2026 instead of 2029.
The premier visited the Diamer-Bhasha Dam site yesterday along with Mariam Aurangzeb, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Khawaja Asif and the WAPDA chairman. Upon arrival, he received a detailed briefing on the project by WAPDA Chairman Lieutenant General (r) Muzammil Hussain, who informed the premier that completion of the project would increase power generation and increase water supply for irrigation.
Speaking on the occasion, Shehbaz said the authorities needed to think about big energy projects and put all the facts before the nation instead of telling lies.
He said that this project is of national importance and would enhance food security. Various projects are being completed at a cost of Rs2.6 trillion, he said, adding that the project would create 16,000 jobs.
The WAPDA chairman also pointed out some technical challenges in the project. The PM directed the chairman to ensure the early completion of the project.
Addressing a function, Shehbaz said that Pakistani and Chinese companies working on Diamer-Bhasha Dam had shown exceptional performance. “This dam is also of great importance for the economy. Crops need a large-scale water supply… The construction of the dam will increase the life of Tarbela Dam by 35 years,” he said, adding that it would serve as a future lifeline for the country’s economy, augmenting the power generation, besides boosting agriculture activities.
He said the 4,500MW project was of immense importance for the country’s economy and stressed that it should be completed ahead of its construction timeline of the year 2029.
“I insist to go ahead with its timeline of 2029 and complete it by 2026-27. It will be a miracle if we achieve it. Nothing is impossible in this world. We can achieve it if we advance in unison,” he added.
According to Shehbaz, the project was started by former premier and PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif in 2016, and the land for the project was purchased by the PML-N government.
“Some of the problems were resolved by the WAPDA chairman and his team very speedily. I am sure that all of you are going to work as a team and make efforts for the biggest energy project and complete it as early as possible,” he said, addressing officials.
The PM said it was a gigantic task and assured all-out support from the federal government to complete the project at the earliest. He said that he could understand that the terrain of the area was hard to work on and there were financial problems, but he was glad to know that the project was able to raise funds from the international market. He also suggested encouraging international investors for future fundraising.
He said that what happened during the last four years was unfortunate. He regretted that out of 125-130MAF water, they were only saving and utilising 25-30MAF water annually. He observed that it would be a big success, if they saved water, and mentioned that Diamer-Bhasha Dam would play a vital role in water storage capacity. The dam would control flash floods, and enhance agricultural productivity, besides creating jobs opportunities in the area, leading to economic prosperity, he added.
The premier said Dasu Dam was also on its way towards completion and very soon it would be operational and help the country overcome the energy crisis.
He said he would not go into the past four years, but what happened with power sector was indeed an injustice to the nation. He lamented that non-hydel power plants having a combined capacity of thousands of megawatts were inactive. Despite a power generation capacity of about 6,000-7,000MW, the gas-fired and oil-run power plants had been shut, he added. “Be it the Ministry of finance, power or petroleum, the way almost four years were wasted gives goosebumps,” he said.
Shehbaz said the area lacked health facilities. He said that as the chief minister of Punjab, he had donated a scanning machine for Gilgit. He announced to build a hospital for the people of Chilas. He said that free treatment and medicines would also be provided to the patients in the hospital. The government of Pakistan will bear the cost of the construction of the hospital in Chilas. Relevant authorities must tell with a week how many beds the hospital should have.”
He also announced the construction of a 13km Babusar Top tunnel to ensure year’s round traffic flow and asked the authorities to submit a study report to his office.
Later, Shehbaz Sharif also had an aerial tour of Karakoram Highway, the 3MW Tired Power Project and Chilas Cadet College.