GILGIT: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Sunday announced the construction of a 13-kilometre long tunnel at Babusar Top.
During a visit to the site of the Diamer Bhasha Dam project, he said the Babusar tunnel would help people of the area travel to and from other parts of the country round the year. The top closes due to snowfall in the winters.
He also asked the authorities to expedite work on the dam project and have it completed by 2026 instead of its currently scheduled time of 2029.
The newly elected prime minister issued the instructions during his visit to the site to inspect the project’s pace of work and activities. He was accompanied by other PML-N leaders, including Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Marriyum Aurangzeb and Khawaja Asif.
PM Shehbaz was briefed by Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) Chairman retired Lt General Muzammil Hussain. He was informed of the issues resolved after efforts made by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit Baltistan administrations.
In his address to the project staff and Wapda officials, PM Shehbaz credited his elder sibling and former premier Nawaz Sharif for “launching the project in 2016”.
He said that he could understand that the terrain of the area was hard to work on and there were financial problems but he was glad to know that the project was able to raise funds from the international market.
The prime minister said power generation from the project, once it begins, would help the economy immensely along with fulfilling irrigation requirements and protecting the country from flash floods. He added it would make the country “prosperous and progressive”.
He appreciated Wapda, Chinese companies and the Frontier Works Organisation for their combined work on the project.
PM Shehbaz urged international investors to come forward and invest in the project so that its power generation could begin as soon as possible.
The premier said Dasu dam was also on its way towards completion and very soon it would be operational and help the country overcome its energy crises.
Experts say early completion not possible
Regarding the early completion of the project, the experts who have completed hydropower projects in the region claimed that it was impossible to complete the 4400-megawatt project in four years and instead it would actually take more time than the scheduled time.
Engineer Abdul Tawab, who served as a director at Pakhtunkhwa Energy Development Organisation and also completed several projects as project manager, told Dawn.com that Diamer Bhasha Dam Reservoir may take around four years to be completed and its diversion of the Indus river and tunnel was not an easy task.
Replying to a question, he said the project was not only an energy project but also the biggest reservoir site of the country.
Chairman Wapda, during the briefing, had also told the prime minister that it would be impossible to complete the project in such a short period of time.