Pakistan eyes 2018 start for China-funded mega dam opposed by India

China and Pakistan signed a memorandum of understanding in December for Beijing to help fund and develop Pakistan's Indus Basin dams, though no timelines have been released.

By: Reuters | Islamabad | Published:June 13, 2017 10:04 pm
pakistan china dam, indus river dam, pakistan china relations, nawaz sharif, pakistan dam india, pakistan dam indus, indus dam project, indo china relations Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, left, shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping. (Source: AP)

Pakistan expects China to fund a long-delayed Indus river mega dam project in Gilgit-Baltistan with work beginning next year, Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal said in an interview to Reuters.

Pakistan has been keen for years to build a cascade of mega dams along the Indus flowing down from the Himalayas, but has struggled to raise money from international institutions amid 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.

China and Pakistan signed a memorandum of understanding in December for Beijing to help fund and develop Pakistan’s Indus Basin dams, though no timelines have been released. Pakistan estimates there is 40,000 MW of hydro potential.

The Diamer-Bhasha dam and reservoir would displace more than 4,200 families in nearby areas and submerge a large section of the Karakoram Highway to China, Pakistan’s Water and Power Development Authority estimates.

Iqbal said Pakistani and Chinese engineers are also surveying other projects, including the 7,100 MW Bunji hydro power project that will be the first in the cascade that stretches down to the Tarbela Dam near Islamabad.

India’s foreign ministry and ministry for water resources did not respond to requests for comment.

India has previously opposed any construction in the Indus Basin it claims as its own, and has criticised CPEC because the $57 billion corridor runs across disputed territory.

India this year fast-tracked $15 billion worth of dam projects on its side of Kashmir, despite fears from Islamabad that the power stations will disrupt vital Indus water flows into Pakistan.

Iqbal, a close ally of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, said India needs to “stop its myopic thinking towards CPEC” and accept the Chinese-funded project is going ahead. Better still would be for India to become part of Beijing’s Belt and Road plans, he said.

“$20 BILLION PLUS”

Future CPEC plans are increasingly focused on how Beijing can help build up Pakistan’s ailing industries, creating special economic zones and opening up sectors from mining to agriculture to Chinese firms.

But Iqbal said infrastructure construction won’t stop, with contracts set to be signed for roads and for mass rail transport systems in Quetta, Peshawar and Karachi.

He said about $10 billion in new deals should be signed in the next year on top of Chinese pledges topping $50 billion, and that was likely to double by 2020.

“I would say conservatively $20 billion plus (in new investment by 2020),” Iqbal said, adding this would also include private investment.

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  1. T
    TheDark Nite
    Jun 16, 2017 at 9:54 pm
    Pakistan and China are getting ahead. Good. Along with Nepal etc. Why do Indian Hindus ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS gotta be so concerned about the success of others? I never hear Pak, Nep, SL, Bang, Maldivians etc. concerned with Indian deals with US, Russia etc. But Indians are obsessed with their neighbours. How about you guys develop yourselves instead??? Sucks to watch others develop and not be your slave as you planned!
    Reply
    1. S
      Sanju
      Jun 14, 2017 at 3:21 am
      You tube video On Pa kis tan the Worlds biggest terror sponsoring state. : /watch?v gQ8UD9b0GDU
      Reply
      1. S
        Sanju
        Jun 14, 2017 at 3:19 am
        To be surrounded by sixty people who make your life miserable is to be at a family reunion. But to be surrounded by millions of Mullahs and Fanatics and Psychos....aka LET< JEM< Taliban....and so forth ....who make the whole world miserable is to live in Fackistan...aka Terroristan......
        Reply
        1. S
          Sanju
          Jun 14, 2017 at 3:18 am
          Looks like Indian express is deleting or modifying the word Pa ki stan in posts. Who owns this newspaper???? Are you pro Indian or Pro Pak istan???? If you are pro stan you need to be shut down. Open shop in Pak istan. Dont need you dont want you here in India.
          Reply
          1. S
            Sanju
            Jun 14, 2017 at 3:16 am
            stan Has Harbored OBL. Got caught with their pants down in a big lie. A stani Mir Amal Kansi was responsible for shooting Americans down At CIA in Langley VA. stan and stanis were behind the Mumbai Carnage which resulted in a loss of 166 lives and 6 of them were Americans.....who were stripped Naked, assaulted and then shot at Taj Mahal and Oberoi Hotels in Mumbai by stani terrorists. They were given directions by stanis in Karachi over satellite phones continuously to inflict maximum damage in Mumbai. One of them was tried in court and hanged. The Mumbai Police Anti-Terrorist Squad investigated the July 11, 2006 Mumbai serial train blasts which killed 209 people and injured over 700. A series of seven bomb blasts that took place over a period of 11 minutes on the Suburban Railway in Mumbai. The bombs were set off in pressure cookers. Ehsan Ullah transported 15 to 20 kg of RDX from STAN.. There was a stani in each of the 7 groups that planted the ex
            Reply
            1. S
              Sanju
              Jun 14, 2017 at 3:15 am
              Yaa Khuddaaa Pa ki stan ki Maa Chu daaaaaa
              Reply
              1. S
                Sanju
                Jun 14, 2017 at 3:14 am
                Ya Khuddaa........ stan ki Maa Chu daa
                Reply
                1. M
                  Mohammad Dar
                  Jun 14, 2017 at 1:12 am
                  Heave a hindrance to truth hinduism heart attack, hogs of hinduism immorality by faith, in human form, a sure way to end up in hinduism destruction, destiny of of follower of hindu criminal manifesto of hinduism racism, by faith, in human form.
                  Reply
                  1. S
                    Sanju
                    Jun 14, 2017 at 3:13 am
                    huh??? Speak simply and clearly my man. You obviously think using fancy words will cause you to be heard eh??? You dont make any sense and frankly sound very ic. You are absolutely welcome.
                    Reply
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