Gilgit-Baltistan: Work Progress on Bunji and DBD Dams

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Gilgit (BR): A parliamentary panel was informed on Tuesday that Water and Power Development Authority had prepared a PC-I for Bunji Dam that could run 16 turbines and produce 7,100 megawatts of electricity on completion. Chairman WAPDA Zafar Mahmood briefed the members of National Assembly Standing Committee on Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan about the ongoing work on Bhasha and Bunji Dams.

PML-N MNA Malik Abrar chaired the committee meeting in the Parliament House wherein the chairman WAPDA said that the Asian Development Bank and World Bank had not denied funding for the Bhasha Dam. Briefing the members about the Bunji Dam, the chairman said that it transpired during designing of the Bunji Dam that it was located on a fault line. “We have to change location and designing of the project due to the fault,” he said. Mahmood said that Finance Minister Ishaq Dar could talk to the World Bank for financing of the dam in September this year. “Redesigning of the dam would also affect around 140 kilometers of Karakorum Highway,” he said. He said that WAPDA had been working to complete all prerequisites for possible financing of Bunji Dam with the World Bank and other international financial institutions. “If completed, the dam would be capable of running 16 turbines and produce 7,100 megawatts of electricity,” he said.

Briefing about the Bhasha Dam, the chairman said that the government had to buy 37,419 acres of land but only 17,424 acres had been acquired so far. According to the plan, 35,991 acres of land was to be provided for the dam in Gilgit-Baltistan and 1,428 acres in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and around 19,062 acres of land was to be provided by the government while 18,357 acres was to be bought from private owners.

So far, the government had provided just 17,214 acres of land for the project while only 210 acres private property had been bought so far, the chairman said. The committee members were also informed that around 100 kilometers of Karakoram Highway would also be affected by the project and the government would have to construct an alternate 141 kilometers road for it. “The alternate route would cost the national exchequer around three billion rupees,” he said. He said the local people had also been resisting the government’s initiative to buy land for the dam which was delaying the project. The chairman also dispelled reservations of some members of the committee about funding of the project. “The international financial institutions are ready to provide funds for the project but even if they don’t do so, we’ll construct the dams by utilising indigenous resources,” he said.

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