ADB urged to be lead financier of Basha dam
20 October, 2012
ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari on Friday urged the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to be the lead financer of Diamer-Basha Dam project.
During a meeting with ADB board of directors, the president said that early completion of the dam was crucial in view of its vitality in diversifying of the energy mix, production of cheap electricity for ensuring smooth running of the economic cycle and to enhance storage capacity of much-needed water for ensuring continued agricultural productivity.
The ADB delegation consisted of Maurin Sitorus, Ashok Lahiri, Kazuhiko Koguchi, Jerome Destombes, Richard Edwards, Khin Khin Lwin, Siraj Shamsuddin and Werner E Liepach.
The president was assisted in the meeting by Finance Minister Hafeez Shaikh, BISP Chairperson Farzana Raja, Salman Faruqui, Petroleum Adviser Dr Asim Hussain, Senator Farhatullah Babar, Senator Syeda Sughra Imam and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Nadeemul Haq.
Briefing about the meeting, Senator Farhatullah Babar said that the president emphasised that being a "water-stressed" country, it was important for Pakistan to urgently enhance its water storage capacity so as to ensure food security and continued agricultural productivity which was backbone of the country's economy.
The president said that the project was also crucial as it would be generating 4,500 megawatts of clean and environmental friendly energy to meet the growing demand of the developing economy.
He said that energy shortage was the major issue which was hampering economic development and growth of the country and was adversely affecting the government's efforts to overcome imprints of heavy toll in the war against terror and that of the recurring natural disasters.
He said that construction of Diamer-Basha Dam was an integral part of Pakistan's strategy to control natural disasters like the devastating floods, diversify its energy mix by harnessing the renewable sources of clean, affordable and environmental friendly energy, generation of short and long term employment opportunities and to focus on building massive infrastructure for overall socio-economic uplift of the area.
He said that the government has demonstrated its political will and was tapping all avenues for generation of the resources for this project of vital importance.
The president said that the government was also cognisant of the safeguard policies and concerns and therefore was adhering to ADB's principles for resettlement of the displaced persons and environmental protection.
The president also appreciated the engagement of the Bank in TAPI natural gas pipeline project that will transport Caspian Sea natural gas from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan into Pakistan and then to India.
Expressing the hope for ADB's continued engagement, the president appreciated its role in coordinating and facilitating negotiation process of the project.
Discussing other mega projects, the president said that Pakistan believes that regional connectivity could play a key role in ushering a new era of socio-economic development and growth of the people of the region and thus was undertaking every effort to promote regional connectivity, enhanced mutual cooperation of the regional countries in the energy sector and having greater mutual trade in the region.
In this regard, the president continued, Pakistan would host Ministerial Conference of Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) in 2016.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf said that Diamer-Basha Dam project was of great importance and there was a national consensus on it.
In a meeting with a six-member ADB delegation, the prime minister said that ADB had been a very reliable partner of Pakistan and it had extended technical and financial assistance to the country in many development projects. He said that Pakistan greatly valued the co-operation extended by the ADB.