The Diamer-Bhasha dam fund has hit Rs10 billion, Prime Minister Imran Khan announced on Tuesday.
"I would like to pay tribute to the generosity of the people of Pakistan for raising Rs 10 billion for the Dams' Fund," said the premier.
The estimated amount required for construction of two dams is Rs1,700bn, of which Rs1,450bn will be spent on the construction of the Diamer-Bhasha dam and Rs300bn on the Mohmand dam.
Mian Saqib Nisar, the then Chief Justice of Pakistan, took the initiative of collecting donations by launching the fund in July, 2018 that was later joined by Prime Minister Imran Khan, making it a joint venture to overcome the country’s water scarcity.
The prime minister in a televised address to the nation last year had appealed to the estimated nine million overseas Pakistanis, particularly those living in European countries and the United States, to contribute at least $1,000 per head "to the noble cause", and warned that Pakistan could face famine-like conditions by 2025 if new water reservoirs were not built.
"I want to commend Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar [for starting the dams fund], but this was not his job," he had said. "This was the job of civilian leaders who knew this was going to swell into a crisis but did nothing to thwart it."
The joint move was given an official name ‘The Supreme Court of Pakistan and the Prime Minister of Pakistan Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand Dams Fund’.
While the government sees the amount collected for construction of new dams so far as a success, opposition parties in the country claim that the government has failed to attract people, especially overseas Pakistanis. They see the amount collected so far as ‘peanuts’, saying that the estimated amount required for the construction of two dams is much higher.
They also claim that the government has spent over Rs12bn on advertisement campaigns of the dams fund. On Feb 22, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) called for recovery of Rs13 billion spent on what it said was “advertisement campaign” of the Diamer-Bhasha dam fund from former CJP Nisar.