Construction work on two major dams — Mohmand and Diamer-Bhasha — is all set to begin in the first and second quarters of 2019 with a total approved cost of about Rs883 billion.
Mohammad Faisal Vawda, the newly appointed Minister for Water Resources, was given a briefing by Muzammil Hussain, the chairman of the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda), about the building of the dams. The retired lieutenant general assured the minister that everything was on course and that construction is going to commence in 2019.
An official said construction work on the Rs309bn Mohmand dam would start in the first quarter of 2019. He added that the process of hiring consultants was in the final stages, who would evaluate the bids for the project and also monitor implementation.
The official said the authorities had invited consultancy firms to submit proposals for the Rs478bn Diamer-Bhasha dam. He added that several companies had submitted applications for the pre-qualification process and their offers were being evaluated to be included in the bidding stage.
The authorities have already divided the Diamer-Bhasha dam into two components — the main dam and other sub-structures. The first stage of the multi-purpose project will begin latest by June 2019, and will be followed by the electro-mechanical phase power house some time later, which is estimated to cost Rs751bn.
The meeting was informed that the fund created by the chief justice of Pakistan, which was later joined by the prime minister, had seen a total donation inflow of Rs4.6bn. Already, Rs23.8bn for the Diamer-Bhasha dam and Rs2bn for the Mohmand dam had been allocated in the Public Sector Development Programme 2018-19.
The Wapda chairman also explained the various factors that were causing the water crisis in the country. He said that building new dams and adopting water conservation strategies were critical for the future.
The minister was also briefed on recently completed Wapda projects and the status of other ongoing water and hydropower projects, including Dasu and Keyal Khwar hydropower plant and Kurram Tangi and Nai Gaj dams.
The briefing also touched on the ready-for-construction projects, which include Kachhi Canal Phase-II and III, Kurram Tangi dam, Tarbela’s 5th extension and Harpo and Bunji hydropower plants.
The minister assured the Wapda team that the government was fully committed to constructing hydropower projects to improve water availability for domestic, industrial and agricultural sectors, while at the same time add low-cost hydel electricity to the national grid.