Bhasha dam to be redesigned
29 March 2007
Islamabad: The government has decided to redesign the Diamer-Bhasha dam to make it safe from seismic activities, which will increase the project cost by $700 million, it is learnt. “Geological surveys have revealed that location of the project is in the earthquake zone,” the Ministry of Water and Power told a meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council a few days ago. It, however, said the project could be made safe from seismic activities, sources in the planning commission told Dawn. The ministry, the planning commission and Wapda were directed that the “dam should be designed keeping in view seismic activities-requirements”, according to minutes of the Ecnec meeting. Ecnec has approved Rs1.677 billion for completion of a detailed engineering design and tender documents of the project. The sources said the Ministry of Water and Power had convened a meeting later this month to see how the increase in the project cost could be taken up with lending agencies. Three senior-most officers of the ministry, Ashfaq Mehmood, Zahir Shah Mohmand and Yousaf Memon, did not respond despite repeated attempts to seek their comment. The government has been negotiating with lenders — World Bank and Asian Development Bank — for financial arrangements on cost estimates of $6.7 billion which has now been projected to over $7.5 billion. Project consultants have started bathymetric, cadastral and marking of dam’s periphery surveys and completed about 95 per cent, five per cent and 35 per cent work, respectively. During the meeting, the Ministry of Water and Power had informed Ecnec that work on the feasibility study of the project was on track and would be completed by March 2008. About compensation to people to be displaced by the project, the ministry assured the prime minister that the process would be transparent. The sources said prequalification activities for contractors would be started in a few weeks.