Federal Planning and Development Minister Ahsan Iqbal says a Chinese company and an area partner will construct the dam
The location of the Diamer-Bhasha dam. PHOTO: INP/FILE
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan expects China to fund an extended-delayed Indus river mega dam venture in Gilgit-Baltistan with work starting subsequent yr, Federal Minister for Planning and Improvement Ahsan Iqbal stated in an interview with Reuters.
Pakistan has been eager for years to construct a cascade of mega dams alongside the Indus flowing down from the Himalayas, however has struggled to boost cash from worldwide establishments amid opposition from its nuclear-armed neighbour India.
These ambitions have been revived by China’s Belt and Street infrastructure plans for Pakistan, a key cog in Beijing’s creation of a contemporary-day Silk Street community of commerce routes connecting Asia with Europe and Africa.
One more dam needed urgently, says expert
The $12-$14 billion Diamer-Bhasha dam ought to generate four,500MW of electrical energy, and an enormous new reservoir would regulate the stream of water to farmland that’s weak to more and more erratic climate patterns.
Iqbal, the Islamabad lead on the China-Pakistan Financial Hall (CPEC), stated a Chinese language firm from a Beijing-picked shortlist and an area companion would construct the dam over a ten-yr interval, and work ought to start within the subsequent monetary yr, which begins in July.
“This water reservoir is most crucial for meals safety in Pakistan, so is a really excessive precedence undertaking for Pakistan,” Iqbal advised Reuters in an interview late on Monday at his ministerial residence in Islamabad.
Nuclear war over water?
China and Pakistan signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in December for Beijing to assist fund and develop Pakistan’s Indus Basin dams, although no timelines have been launched. Pakistan estimates there’s forty,000MW of hydro potential.
The Diamer-Bhasha dam and reservoir would displace greater than four,200 households in close by areas and submerge a big part of the Karakoram Freeway to China, Pakistan’s Water and Energy Improvement Authority estimates.
The federal minister additionally stated Pakistani and Chinese language engineers have been additionally surveying different tasks, together with the 7,100MW Bunji hydro energy undertaking that may be the primary within the cascade that stretches right down to the Tarbela Dam close to Islamabad.
India’s overseas ministry and ministry for water assets didn’t reply to requests for remark.
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India this yr quick-tracked $15 billion value of dam tasks in occupied Kashmir, regardless of fears from Islamabad that the facility stations will disrupt very important Indus water flows into Pakistan.
Iqbal, an in depth ally of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, stated India wanted to “cease its myopic considering in the direction of CPEC” and settle for the Chinese language-funded challenge goes forward. “Higher nonetheless can be for India to grow to be a part of Beijing’s Belt and Street plans,” he stated.
‘$20 billion plus’
Future CPEC plans are more and more specializing in how Beijing may also help construct up Pakistan’s ailing industries, creating particular financial zones and opening up sectors from mining to agriculture to Chinese language companies.
However Iqbal stated infrastructure development wouldn’t cease, with contracts set to be signed for roads and for mass rail transport methods in Quetta, Peshawar and Karachi.
He stated about $10 billion in new offers must be signed within the subsequent yr on prime of Chinese language pledges topping $50 billion, and that was more likely to double by 2020.
“I might say conservatively $20 billion plus [in new investment by 2020],” Iqbal stated, including that this may additionally embrace personal funding.
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