MOHMAND   -  Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday performed ground-breaking of the Mohmand Dam on Swat River which would cost around Rs183 billion and take five years to complete.

Former Chief Justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar was a special guest at the ceremony for the dam, which would be country’s third-largest after Mangla and Terbela dams.

The multi-purpose project is scheduled to be completed in 2024. On completion, it will generate 800 Megawatts electricity, provide active water storage of about 1.2 MAF (million acre feet) and bring about 17,000 acres barren land under cultivation.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Shah Farman and Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, Religious Affairs Minister Dr Noorul Haq Qadri and Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa were also present on the occasion.

Federal Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda was the first to address the ceremony. He thanked the prime minister for instilling confidence in and encouraging his team. He also thanked the retired chief justice, the army chief and Wapda chairman for their hand in the efforts towards the building of the dam.

Addressing the ceremony, the prime minister said unfortunately no visionary development planning had been made in the country in the past. He also regretted the unequal distribution between different areas of the country citing that Lahore was given Rs7,000 per capita development funds against Rs2,500 per capita for Rajanpur during PML-N rule.

Khan reaffirmed his government’s commitment to bring lasting peace and prosperity to the tribal people. He warned the tribal youth against the foreign hands that were trying to mislead them by playing with their sentiments.

“I have seen a foreign-funded conspiracy is underway to provoke the youth in tribal districts,” he said. He said the youth could be molded in any direction if their deprivation and marginalisation did not end. “Hence, it is upon us to support them…,” he said.

He said the tribal areas were neglected by the previous regimes as no development work was carried out there, which resulted into social disparity. The development of the areas and uplift of their poor segments were the priority of present government, he added.

Prime Minister Khan praised Wapda Chairman Lt-Gen (r) Muzamil Hussain for his dedication and professional diligence towards the construction of dams in the country.

He extended special gratitude to former Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar for initiating the campaign for collection of funds for dams’ construction. Till date Rs10 billion had been collected in the fund, the PM informed the attendants.

Former CJP’s speech

Former chief justice Nisar also addressed the ceremony and highlighted the nation's generous contribution towards the dam fund. Emphasising the importance of building dams, he said: "Water is our life."

"The Supreme Court hasn't done a favour to anyone [since it initiated the dam fund]. It [the dam] has become a campaign and a movement," he said.

"I am hopeful, because of the manner in which you worked and the will and resolve with which the chairman Wapda worked, that the dam will be completed within the stipulated time and budget," he asserted.

Briefing on Dam project

Earlier, Wapda chairman and project director briefed the prime minister and other guests about salient features of the dam, which is being constructed on Swat River about 48 kilometres from Peshawar at confluence of Mohmand and Charsadda districts.

This mega project is the initiative of the federal government, which has huge potential to meet Pakistan’s energy and water requirements. It will also help alleviate poverty through creation of thousands of jobs, while the total annual benefits of this project are estimated about Rs51.6 billion for the country.

The dam will also address the long awaited problem of water scarcity in Mohmand district while around 13.32 million cubic meter water will be supplied from this reservoir to Peshawar city for drinking purposes.

The construction of 213 meters high Mohmand Dam will alleviate risk of flood damages to great extend in future. It is expected to save Peshawar, Charsadda, Nowshera and other districts from floods. The water reservoir will also control river flow and minimise intensity of floods downstream.

Its reservoir area extends upstream to Mohmand, Bajaur and other northern districts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Around 8,675 acres land is being acquired for construction of requisite infrastructure at the dam site. The dam will have 56 kilometres long reservoir, irrigation network and re-regulation pond area.

 More on PM’s speech

Prime Minister Imran Khan in his address said economic stability had direct link with the peace in the region and the armed forces of Pakistan had successfully achieved that objective. For the purpose, a large number of security personnel laid down their lives.

He said he had visited all the tribal areas and found that the people had strong resolve to contribute in the national development. He was cognizant of the problems being faced by them and his government was taking steps to resolve those. The prime minister said earlier the same day (Thursday) he attended a local sports festival in Tirah Valley, which was a sign of restoration of peace in the area. More peace in the region would give more confidence to businessmen to invest there and that would ultimately create more employment opportunities, he added.

Referring to his recent visit to China, Khan said the neighbouring country had developed its economy at a massive level during the past 30 years under its visionary leadership. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was a depiction of China’s next 30 years’ planning to strengthen the economy in its western parts by establishing road connectivity.

“By this, the Chinese leadership will make the western areas economically developed at par with the eastern ones," he added while elaborating economic planning system of China. He said the government was working on the construction of five million houses with full commitment. The Chinese methodology of pre-fabricated material might be applied for the purpose, he added.

He announced Rs4.5 billion funds for the development of Mohmand district, provision of internet services, creation of employment opportunities and establishment of more educational institutions. He said Rs100 billion per annum would be given to the tribal areas, as a whole, for development for next 10 years.

Imran Khan said all the provinces were asked to contribute 3 percent share from the National Finance Commission funds for the development of tribal areas. That contribution by the provinces would help assist the tribal people as development in the tribal areas would benefit the whole country, he added.

“Your demands will be fulfilled, including that of trade with Afghanistan,” he said. Pakistan was already willing to open more trading points on the border but for that, peace across the whole country of Afghanistan was needed.

The prime minister said under a conspiracy, the tribal youth were being provoked against the state. The entire nation would have to be vigilant to counter such moves, he added.

Imran Khan said the ‘Naya Pakista’ would be built on the pattern of State of Madinah where the writ of law would be established. He said the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) had set the foundation of the state on social and economic equality.

“The Holy Prophet (PBUH) once said he would even cut the hands of his own daughter if she was found guilty of theft,” he said and added that the State of Madina was a benchmark for modern welfare states.

Without naming anyone, he said when a wealthy politician is questioned about the source of his wealth, he starts propagating that democracy is in danger. “In fact such people make a hue and cry to hide their illegal wealth.”

The prime minister said foreign loans had increased in last 10 years from Rs6,000 billion to Rs30,000 billion because of poor governance and corruption of last due governments. He said no NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance) would be given to any corrupt. Letting the corrupt go scot free would be betrayal and injustice to the nation, he added.