China-funded Diamer-Basha Dam in PoK an ecological disaster in the making
here are 300 earthquakes on average in a single month at the proposed site of the Diamer-Basha dam
Pakistan’s decision to go ahead with the Diamer-Basha Dam in PoK not only infringes upon India’s sovereignty but can be an ecological disaster as there are 300 earthquakes on average in a single month at the proposed site of the Diamer-Basha dam. And this is not the only challenge as the reservoir of the dam is to be constructed on top of the Central Asian faultline.
China’s state-run China Power and Pakistan army’s commercial body Frontiers Works Organisation signed an accord to construct the Dam ($5.85 billion) last Wednesday. Diamer Bhasha Dam, probably the world’s highest concertised dam, will stand at a height of 272m with the capacity to hold 8 mn acre feet of water. It plans to generate 4,500 mw of power.
The dam, to be constructed on the River Indus in the northern Gilgit-Baltistan region, which borders China, is set to produce 4,500 MW. Role of China in the construction of the Dam will allow Beijing to expand its presence in the area.
A letter written by the original designer of the dam, General Butt, in 2004 to then Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf stated, “I shudder at the thought of earthquake effects on Bhasha. Dam-burst would wipe out Tarbela and all barrages on Indus; which would take us back to the stone-age.”
In a September 2018 letter addressed to the then chief justice of Pakistan, one of the US’s foremost design and infrastructure firms, AECOM, cautioned against the proposed Diamer-Basha dam. The letter said, “If Wapda decides to proceed with this concept, the cost would be exorbitant and construction time would exceed ten years. The project risk associated with an RCC dam is extremely high due to the transportation issue and seismic profile found at the location of the project. In summation, for practical and economic reasons the RCC dam should not be recommended for the DBD project.”
India had objected to the construction of the dam repeatedly as it falls into the Indian territory. And if constructed the Dam can cause water shortage in Ladakh. The 200-sq km reservoir of the dam could flood 100 kms of the Karakoram highway, and the villages and farms of over 35,000 people could disappear. Tens of thousands of thousand-year old rock carvings could also vanish. Officials from the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) of Pakistan have revealed that China will most likely fund the bulk of project costs, as well as provide 17,000 workers from the Three Gorges Dam Project. It is also likely that a Chinese company will be in charge of construction of the dam.
Courtesy: The Economic Times