Work on Diamer-Bhasha Dam to be delayed as KP, GB govts lock horns over royalty

  • Federal govt forms boundary commission to resolve the issue between stakeholders

LAHORE: The construction work on Diamer-Bhasha Dam project may face more delay in its execution as a dispute over dam’s boundary has surfaced between Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) governments, Pakistan Today has reliably learnt.

According to details, the federal government has formed a boundary commission to resolve the issue between all the stakeholders.

Diamer-Bhasha Dam, one of the highest dams in the world which is to be built on Indus River at the land which is located at the border between Kohistan, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province and Diamer in Gilgit-Baltistan(GB).

The dam is expected to produce 19 billion units of electricity every year while Rs20 billion will be given to the province where it would be constructed in terms of royalty. Moreover, the federal government has acquired at least 85 per cent of the land worth Rs65 billion and has also decided to execute the construction work during the current fiscal year.

Sources privy to development informed that the KP government had demanded the ownership and royalty from the dam after its completion, as a part of the land for the dam will be acquired from KP. “KP government has asked the federal government to include it among the stakeholders for royalty as the powerhouse of the dam will be built at the land which falls in KP,” they said.

After the reservation of KP government, sources said that the federal government constituted a high-level committee comprising of minister for water and power, minister for water resources, secretaries of both ministries and KP and GB chief secretaries. “The first meeting of the committee remained futile. After a failure in taking any decision, the meeting further proposed to include the chief ministers of both provinces so that this matter would have political ownership and further disputes could be avoided,” they said.

The KP government has confirmed the dispute regarding the ownership of the said dam.

Talking to Pakistan Today, KP government’s spokesman Shaukat Yousufzai said that the dam is designed in a way that the powerhouse of the dam will be constructed in the province, therefore, the provincial government has a right over the royalty of the dam. “The federal government wants to exclude KP from the ownership of the dam to deprive it of its due right of royalty,” he said, and added that a score of meetings were held between the stakeholders but no progress could be made.

The spokesman further said, “Pakistan is already facing an energy crisis and water scarcity and we want this issue to be resolved as soon as possible.” He also alleged that the federal government was reluctant to resolve this issue which led to a dispute.

Pakistan Today tried to contact minister for water and power and minister for water resources, but both were unavailable for comments.

However, an official from GB government while seeking anonymity confirmed that a dispute surfaced between KP and GB government over the royalty of the dam. He added that almost all the land for the dam has been acquired and this dispute will be resolved very soon after which the project would be executed.