Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Sunday stressed the need for putting coordinated efforts to achieve a “milestone” of early completion of the Diamer-Bhasha dam by 2026 or 27 and attracting foreign investors for the project.
“I will still insist and persist that please go into the timeline again and see where we can cut corners and if we can advance its date from 2029 to let’s say 2026 or 27. It will be a miracle. We will achieve… and it's possible. Nothing is impossible in this world provided we put our act together and move forward in unison,” he said in his speech during a visit to the Diamer-Bhasha dam site.
He expressed hope that the authorities would be able to find space and complete the project as early as possible. Shehbaz admitted different difficulties – including difficult terrain, area, weather, and financial issues – being faced by the construction authorities in the completion of the project.
“Dams will help the economy, irrigate lands, and overcome flash floods. This will also help in providing opportunities and making Pakistan progressive,” Shehbaz said, adding that international investors should come forward for this project.
He further advised the Water and Power Development Authority – the body looking after the dam project – to coordinate it with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and seek support from the Chinese Exim bank. Moreover, he also called for looking for potential investors.
Shehbaz assured WAPDA Chairman Lieutenant General (retd) Muzammil Hussain of providing every support in completing the project on time. He stressed the need for setting up a powerhouse in the country.
“Nine people were martyred and 72 people died because of Covid during the construction of the dam. It is good that despite such tragedies we see are seeing life here,” he said, “It will be a milestone in Pakistan if we lead this work by working together as it is important for giving life to Pakistan.”
He lamented the loss of 125-130 million acre-feet of water every year. “We are only able to save 25-30 million acre-feet of water. It’s our fault whether it was civilian or dictatorship, we should learn from the past and save this God’s gift.”
Shehbaz advised the WAPDA chief to establish a hospital in Chilas to cater for the health needs of the people, saying that a mere small dispensary was not enough. “A 200-250 beds hospital should be here, within one week please come to me and the government will fund this project we will fund the entire area it will be a free hospital.”
He further called for preparing a study work on constructing the 13 kilometres tunnel at the Babusar Top and making it an integral part of the project, reiterating the government's support for it.
Restraining from criticising the previous government, Shehbaz said that more than three years of the country were “wasted” and resources were not utilised to expedite the work on such a project.
“We will present facts before the public and refrain from telling lies.”
Later, the premier also visited the construction site and addressed the workers
“In the past, former premier Nawaz Sharif had released Rs100 billion for acquiring the land for the project and then Shahid Khaqan Abbasi showed keen interest in this project and lead this project I am here because this project will boost the economy,” he said.
Shehbaz was of the view that the sooner the dam was established sooner the land would be irrigated. Similarly, he added the power generation project should immediately be started.
The PM paid tributes to the security forces and engineers for their work.
“Today I have announced establishing a new hospital in Chilas and it will have free treatment facilities for everyone,” Shehbaz said.