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LAHORE: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has approved a summary relating to PC-I, financial arrangements and the proposed plan for launching civil work on 4,500MW Diamer Basha dam project, claims Wapda chairman.

After getting the final approval, Wapda has started the required paperwork before initiating the bidding process and launching civil work on the project in August next year.

“We had recently sent a summary to the effect and the prime minister approved it. Since we will require next three to six months in completing the bidding process for hiring consultants and contractors, I am keen on launching civil work in August next year,” Wapda Chairman Muzammil Hussain told Dawn on Thursday.

The project continued to be delayed for the last many years due to funding and land acquisition issues. The groundbreaking [ceremony] of the project had been performed in 2006 by the then president Pervez Musharraf.

Wapda chief claims civil work may start in August next

“Funding and land acquisition delayed the project. We faced a delay of almost 11 years because of Asian Development Bank (ADB) regarding the funding arrangement of $14 billion. And finally the ADB wrote a letter to us last year, stating that the project cannot be launched in the disputed territory,” he said. Hussain said Wapda briefed the ADB team that $14bn was not a big issue since the authority would require funds (approximately) $7bn for the dam portion alone.

“We told them that we will be requiring just a billion dollars a year from the ADB. And rest of the money, including $4bn for power house, can be arranged by us through other resources including commercial financing and equity. Since they were unable to understand our point of view, we finally got rid of them after China assured us to fund the project under CPEC,” he said.

Later, China imposed harsh conditions and Wapda refused to accept them.

“I refused to give ownership and operation & maintenance (O&M) of the project to the Chinese. So we have now decided to launch and complete a major part of the project on our own,” the chairman said.

He said 85 per cent of land acquisition for Basha dam had been completed. “The remaining 15pc relates to the resettlement of the affectees. But the issue is that there is no land available further. So Wapda has decided to give them sufficient money instead of the land so that they could live wherever they want.”

Talking about Mohmand dam, he said the authority was all set to launch civil work on the $3bn project by June or July next year. “It is a very important dam in terms of availability of 1.2MAF water storage, 800MW hydel power generation, availability of water for Peshawar and irrigation of 30,000 acre agriculture land in the area. Moreover, the dam would mitigate the flood chances in Nowshera and Charsadda forever,” he claimed.

Furthermore, the project involved minimum land acquisition. “The bidding process for hiring consultants has been initiated, as about 15 companies have applied for this. I have planned to get 50 to 55pc of the total cost of the dam from the government. And the rest we will arrange through our resources and commercial financing,” he said.

The chairman claimed that stage-1 of Dasu Hydropower Project would complete in 2022. Similarly, he claimed that Wapda would surely be able to commission three mega projects - Neelum-Jhelum, Tarbela-4 and Golen Gol - in next two months.

Published in Dawn, December 22nd, 2017