US willing to partially finance Bhasha Dam

STAFF REPORT IBD: The United States has shown its willingness to partially finance the gigantic Diamer Bhasha Dam to ease water and power shortage in Pakistan and this comes at a time when multilateral donors have backed down on assurances of funds following Indian objections on the project.

“Bhasha Dam needs massive financing and we can extend partial assistance for the project,” US Agency for International Development (USAID) Country Director Jock Conly told the media last week.

He said that Pakistan has to decide about the dam as the US has offered for it.

While on the other hand, Wapda Acting Chairman Raghib Abbas Shah pointed out that the government is negotiating with different countries, including Russia and China, for financial support for the project.

To cope with power shortage, he said, work on different hydropower projects including Neelum Jhelum is under way.

Speaking on Gomal Zam hydropower project, he said it would start producing electricity by December this year and the dam would begin irrigating agricultural land in March next year. The US has given $80 million for the dam with $12 million released recently.

Abbas also raised the issue of abduction of labour working on the Gomal Zam Dam. “Such incidents may slow the pace of construction work and the government should intervene to get kidnapped workers released.”

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