dam’s downside as opposed to numerous economic benefits that accrue from its construction. Thus funding for the project may provide a formidable challenge. Reports that the newly-inducted Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources, Dr Asim Hussain, was engaged in discussions with potential investors in London have surfaced, lending a significant measure of credence to accounts that the government of Pakistan has taken the next critical step forward with respect to realising the project put forth by the Chinese company.
That this proposed project has for sometime been in the works is evident. In April, President Asif Ali Zardari met the Chairman of CTGPC Cao Guangjing and, as an outcome of the meeting, directed the government to task the CTGPC to build a run of the river hydro project at Sukkur Barrage and requested the Water and Power Minister to liaise with the stakeholders to finalise the project proposal within 60 days. The President suggested that apart from undertaking 120MW power project on Sukkur Barrage, the study
on building a number of small power stations of 20MW to 30MW, depending upon the capacity, on the various distributaries in that area may also be explored. However, the President also advised that the downside of dams, including relocation of households and existing highways, be accorded top consideration in further undertaking the study and developing the plans for implementation of the project.
Generating funding for the construction of big dams is a challenge. However, the bigger challenge from Pakistan’s perspective based on our history has been the lack of consensus among provinces on the construction of huge dams. There is thus a need for the government to first develop a consensus on the dam before exploring sources of funding for the project. Given the scale and extent of energy shortages that continue to plague this country a consensus would be quite easier to reach. The government can then turn its attention towards the dam’s construction. The Chinese government has reportedly already indicated its willingness to finance part of the project, the remaining costs can be borne by the government from domestic resources through launching an austerity programme that rivals what is being supported by all recession-ridden economies of the world that include several European countries. – Brecorder