Diamer-Bhasha Dam - Lifeline of Pakistan
Afia Ambreen


The foundation stone of the mega water storage project of Diamer-Bhasha Dam was laid by Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani on Tuesday. On this memorable occasion a beginning has been made to resolve the chronic problems of load shedding.

It will help in flood control and will positively impact country’s economy by bringing additional land under cultivation. The Diamer-Bhasha dam is formally on course some three decades after the first feasibility report on the project was concluded during Gen Zia’s rule. The Diamer-Bhasha Dam which is estimated to cost $ 11.17 billion is expected to take ten years to complete and would be the third major water storage project after Mangla and Tarbela dams. It would provide 6.4 million acre feet (MAF) of irrigation water, generate 4500MW of cheap electricity and bring a major change in the socio-economic uplift of people of Gilgit-Baltistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and in fact the entire Pakistan.
Initial Feasibility Report of Diamer Basha Dam Project was prepared by Canadian Consultants “Montreal Engineering Company (MONENCO) during 1981-1984. WAPDA appointed Local Consultants in December, 1989 for up-gradation of the Initial Feasibility Report. The work on the project was stopped in January 1990 due to interference of local people. WAPDA appointed M/S NEAC Consultants, a joint venture consisted of local & foreign firms, NESPAK (Lead Firm) for up-gradation of the Initial Feasibility Study. The Upgraded Feasibility Report of the Project was submitted by M/S NEAC on 31st August, 2004. International Panel of Experts declared that the Project is technically feasible. The contract for review of Feasibility Studies, Detailed Engineering Design and preparation of Tender Documents awarded to M/S Diamer Basha Consultants (DBC) (Joint Venture of local & foreign firms, with M/S Lahmeyer a leading firm). The DBC mobilized on 5th September, 2005 and the assignment is scheduled to be completed by March, 2008. 90% detailed Engineering Design Work was completed by February 2008.
Diamer Basha Dam Project will be the highest Roller Compacted Concrete Dam in the world, height of 272 meters spillway with fourteen gates each 11.5 m x 16.24 m. The gross capacity of the reservoir will be 8.1 MAF, with a live storage of 6.4 MAF. Two underground power houses are being proposed, one on each side of the main dam having six turbines on each side with total installed capacity 4500 MW. Scheduled completion period of the project is w.e.f. 2009 to 2016, cost US $ 8.505 Billion. Diamer-Bhasha Dam would ensure food and water security, besides increasing cultivable lands. The project would also extend the life of Tarbela Dam, located downstream, by 35 years and would help control flood damages in the country. The project would create thousands of jobs, development of infrastructure and give a boost to related industrial production because most of the material to be used would be purchased locally except for the power generation plants. So the project has multi dimensional benefits and need to be pursued with the earnest.
The country and the people suffered enormously for making the Kalabagh Dam a political issue, otherwise, that vital dam would have been completed by now. The country would not have been facing the long hours of load shedding and unscheduled floods. Diamer-Bhasha Dam has already been delayed. PM Gilani pointed out that the Government is executing a number of medium size dams in the four provinces and the government hopes that these dams along with Diamer-Bhasha Dam would be completed on schedule. For the purpose, the Government should set up a system to monitor the progress and to ensure that the project complete on time. .