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$12.6 billion Diamer-Bhasha Dam approved

12 November, 2008

$12.6 billion Diamer-Bhasha Dam approved
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ISLAMABAD: The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) has approved the Diamer-Bhasha Dam, which will be completed in seven years at a cost of $12.6 billion.

The committee met here with Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Shaukat Tareen in the chair. Federal Minister of Water and Power Raja Pervez Ashraf said this while talking to journalists here on Tuesday.

The minister also said the government would soon announce relief in power tariff for low-income groups and middle-class consumers. He said that the Diamer-Bhasha Dam would have the capacity to store water of 8.1 million acre feet. “The country would generate 45,000 MW of electricity after the completion of the dam,” he claimed.

He said Pakistan would benefit $1.5 billion annually in the form of hydropower and $600 million in the form of water to improve the agriculture sector. Pervez Ashraf said the Ecnec had approved Rs 116.5 billion to acquire land for the dam. However, official sources, who attended the meeting, said it was decided that the process of acquiring land should not be initiated until the required amount was arranged. For the year 2008-09, the Ecnec approved Rs 60 billion for acquisition of land, which means that the remaining allocation of funds would be fixed for the next fiscal year 2009-08.

To a question about arranging funds for the huge project, he said that Chinese companies had shown interest to construct the dam during the recent visits of the president and the prime minister to China. He said the Chinese companies were in constant touch with the government, adding some Arab countries that wanted to form a consortium to materialise this national project were also in contact.

He said that the government would focus on hydropower projects besides paying maximum heed to exploiting alternate energy resources to cope with the power crisis. He said that the country currently had a capacity to generate 18,000 MWs. “However, by 2020, the country would need 116,000 MW of electricity, keeping in view the electricity demand which stands at 7-8 per cent per annum,” he said.

To cope with the energy crisis, a huge investment worth $30 billion is needed, out of which $10 billion would be spent by the public sector while $20 billion will be used by the private sector, he said.

He said the government had entered into agreements with rental powerhouses for three to five years. “After the said period, the government would be able to generate enough electricity to cater to the electricity needs of the country,” he said.

End.

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