Funding for water reservoirs

CONTRARY to what we have been hearing for the last several years, President of Asian Development Bank (ADB) Takehiko Nakao, during a news conference in Islamabad, declined to make any commitment for funding of the Diamer-Bhasha dam, which is vital for socio-economic development of Pakistan. He told newsmen that the project needs huge funding and his bank could consider joining other partners for the purpose at a later stage.
Pakistan has been discussing possibility of funding of Diamer-Bhasha dam with the ADB since 2011 when its Director Energy Division Rune Stroem, during a meeting with then Minister for Water and Power Syed Naveed Qamar, said the Bank accords highest priority to the project and agreed to organise Road Shows in three different countries with donors, equipment suppliers and other concerned for co-financing the project. Finance Minister Ishaq Dar too has been expressing optimism about financial closure of both Diamer and Dassu dams but regrettably no concrete achievement has so far been made and the projects are still a pipe dream. Neither previous PPP Government nor the incumbent one succeeded in completing the land acquisition process despite repeated claims about successes on this account and also could not line up the funding, which is fundamental requirement for physical initiation of work. This is despite the fact that Finance Minister has been assuring that the country would start work simultaneously on the two projects with or without foreign funding in view of their critical significance to the energy and water security of the country. According to a World Bank survey, Pakistan is at number 17 in the list of countries facing water scarcities and water shortage. We are already facing drought conditions besides the phenomenon of glacier melting in our northern areas. There is also urgency to build new water reservoirs on priority basis in view of threats being hurled by India to block Pakistan’s share of water under the Indus Basin Treaty. Therefore, authorities concerned should abandon lethargic attitude and address the issue on priority basis.

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