Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif performed the ground-breaking of a 4,320-megawatt hydropower project at Dasu on Wednesday, reiterating his government’s commitment to achieving energy security for the country’s ‘fast-paced development’. Making electricity available to the people is not difficult, but the government is ensuring that the people have affordable power, he said, while speaking to a select group of participants at the ceremony.
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Governor Sardar Mehtab Ahmed Khan, Federal Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Asif, Water and Power Secretary Nargis Sethi, Wapda Chairman Zafar Mehmood, and K-P Chief Secretary Lt Gen (retd) Salahuddin Tirmazi, attended the ceremony. However, K-P Chief Minister Pervez Khattak and his cabinet members were conspicuous by their absence. Regarding the importance of hydel power, the prime minister said it was immensely important to eradicate electricity shortages. The Indus River has the potential to produce 40,000 MW but the government has only tapped up to 7,000 MW.
“We are committed to fully utilising this potential during the next five years,” he said, adding that the 4,500-MW Diamer-Bhasha Dam was another River Indus project which was going to be taken up very soon. PM Nawaz Sharif termed the occasion the historic one. “We are spending Rs500 billion on this area, which will provide employment to locals and significantly help in poverty alleviation.” The World Bank’s assistance for the Dasu project was a manifestation of his government’s sound economic policies, he added. Earlier, Wapda officials briefed the prime minister on the Dasu Hydropower Project, which is being built at Indus, 7km upstream off Dasu, the district headquarters of Kohistan. The project has been proposed to be constructed in two stages.
The first includes six units with a total installed capacity of 2,160 MW, land acquisition, resettlement as well as environmental and social management. The second stage includes the installation of the remaining six units. The World Bank Board of Directors has approved $1048.4 million for the project’s Stage-I, while the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC), in its meeting held on March 28, approved the project’s PC-I for Stage-I with a cost of Rs486 billion. Thirty resettlement sites have been identified and finalised in consultation with the affected people, according to Wapda.
In addition, a master plan and a survey of eight resettlement sites have already been completed. On this occasion, villagers from the areas designated as to be affected staged a protest against the project management and apprised the prime minister of their demands, which include Wapda honouring the promises it made regarding the market rate of land compensation, coupled with job quota, education and resettlement facilities. The prime minister assured the villagers that their demands would be met. He promised that hospitals, schools and colleges and other facilities would be provided to the people of Kohistan, bringing their living standard at par with Islamabad. -tribune