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Zardari seeks robust ADB financing for Bhasha Dam

Calling upon the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to be a lead financier to Diamer-Basha Dam, President Asif Ali Zardari said that early completion of the project was crucial in view of the country’s electricity requirement and much-needed water for ensuring continued agricultural productivity. He stated this while talking to the ADB Board of Directors at Aiwan-e-Sadr on Friday.

President said that energy shortage and water scarcity were among the major issues being faced by the country that hindered smooth economic growth and government’s efforts for poverty alleviation. He emphasised that being a water-stressed country, it was important for Pakistan to urgently enhance its water storage capacity to ensure food security and continued agricultural productivity which was backbone of the country’s economy.

He said that the project was also crucial as it would generate 4500MW environmental-friendly energy to meet the growing demand of the developing economy. He said that the construction of Diamer-Bhasha 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, generate short and long term employment opportunities, particularly for the locals, and to focus on building massive infrastructure for overall socio-economic uplift of the area and standard of living of the people.

He said that the government had demonstrated its political will and was tapping all avenues for generation of the resources for this project of vital importance. He said that the government was also cognizant of the safeguard policies and concerns and therefore was adhering to ADB’s principles for resettlement of the displaced persons and environmental protection.

President also appreciated the engagement of the Bank in TAPI natural gas pipeline project that would transport Caspian Sea natural gas from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan into Pakistan and then to India.

The delegation assured ADB’s continued engagement with the country. The delegation of ADB comprised Maurin Sitorus, Ashok Lahiri, Kazuhiko Koguchi, Jerome Destombes, Richard Edwards, Ms Khin Khin Lwin, Siraj Shamsuddin and Werner E Liepach.

President was assisted in the meeting by Finance Minister Dr Hafeez Shaikh, BISP Chairperson Farzana Raja, Secretary General M Salman Faruqui, Petroleum Adviser Dr Asim Hussain, Senator Farhatullah Babar, Senator Syeda Sughra Imam, Deputy Chairman Planning Commission Dr Nadeem-ul-Haq, and other senior officials of the ministries concerned.

Earlier, while talking to the ADB delegation, Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf said that Diamer-Basha Dam was a project of great national importance which had a national consensus as all the stakeholders had endorsed it.

He said that ADB had been a very reliable partner of Pakistan. “It has extended technical and financial assistance to Pakistan in many development projects and Pakistan greatly values the cooperation extended by ADB”, he said and added, “It is my earnest desire that we should concentrate on a few strategic projects so that they can be completed in time and yield results.”

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