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ADB mission satisfied with on-site social, engineering work

In a positive and remarkable development, a three-member review team of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) that is to give Pakistan $5 billion for the most strategic Diamer-Bhasha dam visited the project site and appreciated on-ground engineering and social work being done by Wapda, a senior official in the Ministry of Water and Power told The News.

The United States has also intimated that it would give $1 billion for the dam in five years — $200 million each year, the official said. To a question, he said, the US agreement to give $1 billion would pave the way for major international financial institutions to provide more funding for the project.

The official said the World Bank, which was earlier hesitant to fund the project, is now very much willing to fund it because of the US willingness to provide $1 billion. The top management of the World Bank has in principle agreed to extend a loan for the project, he said, adding that when the new president of the bank takes charge, Pakistan would pursue its case more vigorously.

To a question, the official said, the Manila-based ADB would remain the leading donor institution. He said the purpose of the ADB review mission’s visit was to witness on-ground engineering and social work being carried out by Wapda. It visited the work on 12 local contracts for construction of Wapda offices, colonies, contractor camps, road infrastructure, etc. The team visited the community seminary and first-ever school for girls in Chilas built by Wapda and appreciated the social services being provided to locals, he said.

The ADB mission also visited Shatial in Kohistan district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Thor Valley, Khanberi Valley and DHQ Hospital Astor in Gilgit-Baltistan as well as witnessed the functioning of the Mobile Health Unit provided by Wapda for the population affected by the project, the official said. It was impressed by the social change in the area because of the project, he said, adding that the project would help end of bonded labour (locally known as Kalang) in Khanberi Valley.

The official said the land acquisition for the project is in progress while 12 contracts for the construction of Wapda offices, infrastructure, etc, in the project area have already been awarded.

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