Prime Minister Imran Khan was informed on Monday that all the prep work for the Diamer-Bhasha dam has been completed and the project was ready for construction.
Taking to Twitter, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting retired Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa called the announcement "historic news".
He said: "Announcing to start construction of Diamer-Bhasha dam today is historic news for all generations of Pakistan. A huge stimulus for our economy, [will] create 16,500 jobs, generate 4,500 MW hydel power and irrigate 1.2 m acres agri land, enhance Tarbela dam’s age by 35 years."
Chairing today's briefing on national water security strategy and the construction of dams to meet the country's agricultural and energy requirements, the premier was informed about the progress of all pending issues related to the dam's construction.
The premier expressed satisfaction over the progress made so far and directed authorities concerned to begin construction work on the dam. "Ensuring water security is the government's first priority," he said, according to a statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office.
"In addition to ensuring the optimum utilisation of available water resources for agricultural needs, the construction of dams will help meet energy requirements at affordable rates."
The prime minister directed that local materials and expertise be used during construction to provide the people with ample job opportunities.
According to the statement, during today's meeting, PM Imran was informed that "all issues related to this critically important project, including settlement, detailed roadmap for mobilisation of financial resources etc. have been resolved and the project was ready for commencement of physical work".
The meeting was informed that Diamer-Bhasha dam had remained in limbo for decades due to various reasons.
"The construction of the dam will create 16,500 jobs and utilise a large quantity of cement and steel which will boost our industry, in addition to its main purpose of water storage and producing 4,500 MW of cheap and affordable electricity," the press release said.
"The 6.4 million acre feet (MAF) water storage capacity of the dam will reduce the current water shortage in the country of 12 MAF to 6.1 MAF. It will add 35 years to the life of Tarbela dam by reducing sedimentation. An area of 1.23 million acres of land will be brought under agriculture [use] due to this dam," it added.
The meeting was also informed that Rs78.5 billion will be spent on the area around the dam for its social development as part of the project. "[The dam] will also be a major source of flood mitigation and save billions in damages caused by floods each year," the statement added.
The chairman of Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) also briefed the meeting about the progress of the recently-commenced construction work at Mohmand Dam.
PM Imran was also informed about the Dasu hydropower project and the progress made so far. "The premier expressed satisfaction over the progress and directed to ensure expeditious commencement of the project," the statement read.
It added that the prime minister was also told that funds have been arranged for Naulong dam in Balochistan and that work on the project will commence next year.
The premier stressed the need for starting the Sindh barrage project. "The project has huge benefits in addressing the agriculture needs of the province. It will stop soil erosion and also improve the drinking water situation for urban centres in Sindh," he said.
PM Imran also appreciated the efforts made by the water resources ministry and Wapda in pursuing the projects. He reiterated his emphasis on keeping a close eye on the quality of work and meeting timelines.