Gilgit-Baltistan: Mitigating Adverse Environmental Impacts of DBD Dam

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GILGIT (ET): Even though the construction of Diamer-Bhasha dam will have adverse impacts on the environment, but efforts are underway to mitigate them as much as possible.

This was discussed at a high-level meeting of Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) Lahore with the dam’s stakeholders on Thursday. The Wapda authorities assured the stakeholders that steps were being taken to preserve the local culture by setting up model villages around the reservoir periphery.

The meeting was held as part of public consultation on the environment impact assessment of the dam being constructed in Diamer District and parts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P). More than 30,000 people from 32 villages of Diamer valley will be dislocated as the work progresses, said Dr Izharul Haq, a senior advisor in Wapda. He said the dam brewed controversy between the governments of G-B and K-P after the K-P Assembly adopted a resolution claiming over 8 km land near the dam.

Dr Rahil Ahmed, another official of Wapda said it was highly likely that hundreds of rock carvings would be submerged in the reservoir, but said the German government has pledged to support them in preserving them in a museum in Chilas.

Mohammad Zafar, an official of the World Wildlife Fund, said the area around the dam was home to some rare wildlife species will lose their habitat due to the construction. He asked the authorities to take the aspect into account.

Meanwhile, the participants complained that they were not consulted before preparing plans for those affected by the dam.

The meeting was attended by public representatives, officials of wildlife and forests departments and district administration and NGOs.  With a storage capacity of about 8 million acre-feet and projected electricity generation of 4,500 megawatts, Diamer-Bhasha will top both Tarbela and Mangla dams as the storage capacities of both have fallen drastically due to silting over the years.

According to experts, the dam is expected to be completed in eight years and will cost over $12 billion.

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