Opposed by India, Pak eyes China funding for mega dam project
We expect that China would fund the long delayed Indus river mega dam project in Gilgit-Baltistan, with work beginning next year, Pakistan's planning minister Ahsan Iqbal said in an interview.
Pakistan has been keen to build a cascade of mega dams along the Indus flowing down the Himalayas. However it has not been able to raise funds from international institutions due to opposition from India. Those ambitions have been revived by China's Belt and Road infrastructure plans for Pakistan, a key cog in Beijing's creation of a modern-day Silk Road network of trade routes connecting Asia with Europe and Africa.
The $12-$14 billion Diamer-Bhasha dam should generate 4,500 megawatts (MW) of electricity, and a vast new reservoir would regulate the flow of water to farmland that is vulnerable to increasingly erratic weather patterns.
Iqbal, the Islamabad lead on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), said a Chinese company from a Beijing-picked shortlist and a local partner would build the dam over a 10-year period, and work should begin in the "next financial year", which begins in July.
"This water reservoir is most critical for food security in Pakistan, so is a very high priority project for Pakistan," Iqbal told Reuters late on Monday at his ministerial home in Islamabad.
He further said that Pakistan and Chinese engineers are also surveying other projects which includes the 7,100 MW Bunji hydro power project which will be the first in the cascade that stretches to the Tarbela Dam near Islamabad.