LAHORE, April 22: The Water and Power Development Authority, with the help of USAID, has completed Pakistan’s first roller compact concrete (RCC) Gomal Zam dam and started filling the lake last week. Briefing the visiting delegates belonging to Wapda, USAID and the media, Frontier Works Organisation director-general Maj-Gen Najibullah Khan said that the dam built on the Gomal river in South Waziristan at a cost of Rs10.4 billion could store around 1.14 million acre feet water, generate 17.4MW electricity and irrigate 163,000 acres of land. “Had it not been for timely assistance of $40 million by USAID, the project could never have been completed,” he said.

The project was completely stalled, rather abandoned in 2004, after the kidnapping of some Chinese engineers. But the US agency chimed in with the money and the FWO replaced the Chinese contractors to restart the project.

Talking to journalists on the dam site, USAID mission director Andrew Sisson claimed that his agency was considering financial support for Kurram Tangi and Diamer-Basha projects as well.

Praising the project, he expressed the hope that it would transform the area by creating jobs, supporting economic growth and improving the lives of local people.

The agency is already involved in supporting rehabilitation of a few aging thermal projects of Pepco and extension of Tarbela.

Wapda chairman Shakeel Durrani said that it was the first-ever mega project in Fata.

He said Wapda was looking forward to another $40million grant by USAID to help complete the irrigation component and develop command area of the dam.

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