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Groundbreaking of Mohmand dam set for next month

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FEDERAL Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda and Wapda chairman retired Lt Gen Muzammil Hussain addressing a joint press conference on Wednesday.—APP
FEDERAL Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda and Wapda chairman retired Lt Gen Muzammil Hussain addressing a joint press conference on Wednesday.—APP

ISLAMABAD: In a rare move, Prime Minister Imran Khan, Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar and Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa will launch the Mohmand dam project in the first week of January.

Speaking at a news conference on Wednesday, federal Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda said the prime minister would break ground for the dam project. Terming the event historic, the minister said: “The foundation stone will be laid in the first week of January and the ceremony will be attended by the army chief, prime minister and the chief justice.”

The dam will be completed in five years at an estimated cost of Rs300 billion to Rs315 billion. He said it was a major development that the 54-year-old project was finally moving towards the implementation stage.

He praised the armed forces to restore peace to the militancy-hit area, enabling the government to launch work on the project.

Prime minister, CJP, army chief to attend ceremony, says Vawda

He said the dam would generate about 800MW of electricity and irrigate 17,000 acres of land besides meeting Peshawar’s water requirement. He said the Rs315bn required for the project would be arranged from local resources without seeking international loan. About Rs2bn is already allocated in the current year budget for the project launch.

Wapda chairman retired lieutenant general Muzammil Hussain said due to criminal negligence in the past, focus remained on independent power plants instead of hydropower projects. Since 1967, he said, no work had been initiated on any major water project such as the Tarbela dam.

Located on the confluence of the Kabul and Swat rivers, the Mohmand dam would mitigate floods and ensure water for agriculture in an area suffering from the “highest degree of militancy”, said the former army general.

He said local support for the project showed militancy was not an indigenous issue.

The Wapda chairman said the project would be funded through the public-sector development programme (PSDP) in the shape of equity and remaining through commercial loans.

He reiterated that the army had controlled militancy. He said the chief justice had assisted in resolving litigation so that work on the dam could be launched.

About the Dasu dam, he said that work on the project had suffered delays due to lack of funds and unavailability of land. As both issues had been resolved, he expressed the hope that the first phase of the project would be completed in 2022-23.

Responding to a question, Water Resources Secretary Shamail Ahmad Khawaja said Pakistan had approached the World Bank as a third party to address its concerns over the Kishanganga and Rattle projects being built by India in violation of the Indus Waters Treaty. He said the attorney general was looking into the suggestions that the World Bank had given to Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, December 20th, 2018