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USAID may give $3.5 billion for Bhasha Dam, says Wapda chairman

Wapda Chairman Syed Raghib Abbas Wednesday disclosed that USAID had hinted at providing $3.5 billion for Bhasha dam.

“However, the primary work has started with funds from the government,” he told the Senate Committee on water and power.

The Senate Committee headed by Senator Ghulam Mustafa Shah was apprised by the Wapda chairman that with the funds from the government, the preliminary work on most important project has got started and so far the Rs9 billion has been spent to this effect.

To a question he said that Asian Development Bank (ADB) had linked the release of funds for the project with consensus of the provinces on the project and social and power sector reforms.

The terms of ADB were fulfilled but it did not extend the funding for the project. Earlier the donor agencies, Wapda chief said, had refused to give any funding for the project, but now USAID has shown willingness to provide finances of $3.50 billion for Diamer-Bhasha dam and to this effect a crucial meeting is soon to be held with top US functionaries.

And to this effect a consultant would also be appointed. Sajjadul Hassan, a member of the Senate committee, said he did not hope for the funds from any donor agency for the project arguing that donors are of the view that it is being completed in the disputed area.

Hassan said that the Bhasha dam is feared to become Kalabagh Dam-2. Wapda chairman responded that India had never agreed to resolve the Kashmir issue, then how is it possible for Pakistan to agree to resolve the issue of ‘disputed area’ where in the proposed project is being constructed.

Wapda chief told the participants of the committee that about 450MW of hydro generation would be added in the system by June this year. However, by 2016 with the expansion in capacity of Tarbela dam, the hydro generation of 1410MW will further be added to the system. About the status of Neelum-Jhelum project, he said that 42 percent construction work has been completed.

Hamayiat Ullah Khan, Special Secretary of Ministry of Water and Power, has disclosed that the country is currently facing power deficit of 4600MW mainly on account of reduction in hydro generation.

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