SALMAN ABDUHOO LAHORE The United States has responded positively to the request of the government for co-financing the construction of the Bhasha Dam, while modalities in this regard will be decided soon. Official sources in the Pakistan Water and Power Development Authority told The Nation that the WAPDA had formally requested the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the United States (USA) and the donors of Middle East for co-financing of the multi-purpose Diamer-Basha Dam project and the US has now showed its willingness to provide financial assistance to Pakistan to build the mega project. . According to sources, the high officials from Ministry of Water and Power had briefed the United States government about the dam on different occasions and highlighted its importance. They tried to convince it that in the wake of increasing demand of electricity and water in the country, it was a vital project that needed to be undertaken urgently. A US delegation in a meeting on Thursday assured the WAPDA officials of arranging the funding for this mega project, sources said and added that it was a significant development. They said that the ADB is likely to be the leading donor for the construction of Diamer-Basha Dam. They said that the federal government has allocated Rs 15 billion for the project during the current fiscal year. A sum of Rs 5 billion will be provided by the government through Annual Development Programme (ADP), while Rs 10 billion will be raised by WAPDA as approved by the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet last week. Rs 2 billion have been earmarked for land acquisition this year, they added. They said that Rs 700 million were released to the Deputy Commissioner Chillas during the last fiscal year for initiating the process of land acquisition for the project. Groundbreaking of WAPDA/contractors offices, colonies etc. is expected next month, they said. Officials in Water and Power Ministry pointed out the US seemed pretty supportive towards the projects of water as well as hydropower sector in Pakistan, as USAID provided a grant of $ 16.5 million for repair of some of the units of aging Tarbela Power House. Following the repair during 2010-11, another 85 MW will be added to the existing generation capacity of Tarbela Power House. The US has also inked an agreement with WAPDA on Jan 7, 2011, to provide a grant of $ 66 million for completion of the remaining works of Gomal Zam and Satpara Dam Projects (US$ 40 million for Gomal Zam Dam and US$ 26 million for Satpara Dam). The amount would assist in completing the two projects, which would generate 35 MW and provide irrigation to nearly 160,000 acres. Had this grant not been provided, construction work on the two projects would have virtually come to a stand still due to paucity of funds through PSDP. Experts say that the Diamer-Basha Dam, the largest project ever executed in the history of Pakistan, will store 8.1 million acre feet (MAF) of water and generate 4,500MW of low-cost hydel electricity on its completion. In addition to providing water for agriculture, the project will also contribute 18 billion units of electricity per annum to the national grid. Owing to construction of Diamer-Basha Dam, the existing Tarbela Power House will generate 1 billion additional units of electricity annually. The life of Tarbela Reservoir will also increase by another 35 years, they added.