Water shortage crisis made us look towards the construction of another dam the desire of constructing one biggest dam after Tarbela and Mangla isn’t new neither is Diamer-Bhasha dam. Its foundation stone has been laid three times by different governments; first in 2006 General Pervaiz Musharaf decided to build it, then in 2011 Yousaf Raza Gillani laid the foundation stone second time and in PML (N)’s third reign Nawaz Sharif decided to do the same despite these three foundation stone the dam is still under preliminary construction.

The dam site is situated near a place called “Bhasha” in Gilgit-Baltistan’s “Diamer” District, hence the name. It is estimated that upon completion dam would produce 4500 megawatts of electricity moreover store an extra 8,500,000 acre feet (10.5 km3) of water, extend the life of Tarbela Dam by 35 years and control the flood damage and would be the world’s highest RCC (roller-compacted concrete) dam. The importance of this dam clearly reflected from the issuance of NOC from India to World Bank which in other words is a technical way of saying “no funding for this project”.

When Musharraf, Zardari and Sharif’s government fails in achieving much breakthrough in the construction of this mega project Chief Justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar has recently started raising funds through live account to pave the way for its construction and it is also anticipated that the PTI, would pace up its efforts to raise funds on urgent basis to start construction of the dam. The estimated construction cost of the dam is 14,000,000,000 USD which is 1,728,300,000,000 in PKR. So here the question rises; can we really build a DAM from donations?

The recent status of the live account of Diamer-Bhasha dam is almost 8 billion PKR which is not even the one third of estimated construction cost so it’s a bitter fact to be known and understood that it’s nearly impossible to build a dam from donations or by cutting one day salary of government employees. But if government use its resources intellectually an impossible thing could be made possible.

Diamer-Bhasha dam is a long term project the government can finance it by allocating funds in annual budget each year and instead of taking “Suo Moto action” against petrol taxes court can charge 1 Rs/liter petrol water tax and 5% water tax on cell phones and mobile cards Moreover water meters should also be placed to stop people from wasting water and raise funds for dam against those water bills. Government should also focus on building smaller dams (like Manda and Mangi Dam and several others) or canals as they are short term project with less financing as compared to former. We must choose our priorities wisely so that we may not overlook a famine over collecting donations.

SAIRA NIAZI,

Lahore, November 5.