ISLAMABAD – Minister for Planning Ashan Iqbal has said that Pakistan expects China to fund a long-delayed Indus river mega dam project in Gilgit-Baltistan, with work beginning next year.

The $12 to 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.

In an interview with British media, the minister 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”, i.e July.

He stated that this water reservoir is most critical for food security in Pakistan, so is a very high priority project for Pakistan.

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.

Mr Iqbal 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.-Online