By: Zeeshan Rustam
Diamer-Bhasha Dam is a concreted-filled gravity dam, in the preliminary stages of construction, on the River Indus between Kohistan district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Diamer district in Gilgit Baltistan. The dam site is situated near a place called “Bhasha”, hence the name which is 40Km downstream of Chilas town and 315Km from Tarbela Dam. The eight million acre-feet (MAF) reservoir with 272-meter height will be the tallest roller compact concrete (RCC) dam in the world. In 1980, construction of the dam was suggested and prime minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, inaugurated the dam project in 1998. The first feasibility report was prepared in 2004 but its revised feasibility report was prepared in 2008. The contract was awarded for construction in 2002. The future aspects of the Diamer Bhasha Dam would (a) produce 4800 megawatts of electricity through hydropower generation; (b) store an extra 10.5 cubic kilometers (8,500,000 acre-ft) of water for Pakistan that would be used for irrigation and drinking; (c) extend the life of Tarbela Dam located downstream by 35 years; and (d) control flood damage by the River Indus downstream during high floods.
There are followings critical points of the dam. First is its geostrategic location and it is no substitute for Kalabagh dam not because of its altitude which is high enough, but because no irrigation canals can be taken out from it because of the hilly terrain. No canals can be taken out from any dam on the Indus except from Kalabagh Dam.
Secondly, its funds Diamer Bhasha Dam is being built on the seismic zone. Some critical claims if the dam bursts due to an earthquake, say of the same 7.6 magnitude in the local area.
Thirdly, dam funds corruption conspiracy under the Supreme Court registrar supervision and till now people of Pakistan funded Rs.3, 624,222 following graphic representation of funds.
A chart of the funds collected for the Mohmand and Diamer-Bhasha dams so far. Photo: supremecourt.gov.pk