ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan on Thursday, while addressing the groundbreaking ceremony of the much-awaited Mohmand Dam at the project site on Swat River about five kilometers upstream of Munda Headworks in Mohmand district, asserted that the country could not prosper unless the restoration of peace in the society.
He outlined significance of peace for investment in the country, and stated: “Investment is impossible unless peace is restored.” He considered it vital to eradicate unemployment and poverty.
The premier lashed out at political rivals and said those who were inflicting damage to the system were saying that they are saving democracy.
“In 1960s, we [Pakistan] were far ahead of many other states in the world, however after that even countries in the subcontinent moved ahead of us,” he added.
He praised measures of development adopted by China, and said there is no example alike China as it has already prepared for the next 20 years. “China doesn’t think merely of elections,” he continued.
He said that China has about 5,000 dams as big as Tarbela and Mangla in Pakistan, and that there is a reason why China has been building so many dams.
He maintained that China has decided to help Pakistan, and with the use of advanced technology and techniques, the dam could be built in less than five years of time.
He stated that we [the government] have to built five million houses in the country, and not one city but the entire state would be uplifted
For Mohmand district, he said Rs4.5 billion has been allocated for the development of the region.
Regarding peace process in Afghanistan, he expressed Pakistan resolve to find a solution to that, and termed it vital for trade activities in Afghanistan.
“I will fulfill a demand of opening the doors with Afghanistan,” he went on to say. “Besides, demands of 4G and [building of] education institutes will also be accepted.”
He said that under the National Finance Commission (NFC) award, the provinces were to give a share to tribal districts.
Moreover, he paid rich tributes to former chief justice Saqib Nisar and armed forces of Pakistan for their remarkable services for the homeland.
He praised Pakistan Army for rendering sacrifices for the restoration of peace in the state.
Earlier, PM Imran Khan, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa and former chief justice Saqib Nisar on performed the groundbreaking of the dam.
Federal Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda, Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, Federal Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Dr Noorul Haq Qadri, Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Shah Farman and Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, Senator Faisal Javed, MNA Sajid Khan, PTI leaders and WAPDA officials were also present on the occasion.
WAPDA Chairman Lt Gen (rtd) Muzamil Hussain and project director of the dam briefed the PM about salient features of the project.
‘Water is our life’
Former chief justice Saqib Nisar also addressed the ceremony and expressed his gratitude to dwellers of the region for their generous contribution that a land has been allocated for the construction of the dam.
He said many difficulties could be faced during the construction project, and one of them would be “transparency.”
Emphasising the significance of building dams, he said: “Water is our life.”
“The Supreme Court hasn’t done a favour to any one [since it initiated the dam fund]. It has become a campaign and a movement,” he said.
“I am hopeful, because of the manner in which you worked and the resolve with which the chairman of WAPDA has worked, that the dam will be completed within the stipulated time and budget,” he asserted.
He also thanked immigrants for contributing to the fund.
Previous rulers were busy in playing politics
Earlier, Federal Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda addressed the ceremony, while thanking the premier for instilling confidence in him and his team, and criticised previous politicians by stating that schools, hospitals, jobs and dams were not built and created as they were busy in playing politics.
He also expressed his gratitude to the army chief and the Water and Power Development Authority chairman for their contribution in the project.
He outlined that the real threat to the state is from within, and not from powers outside. He stated that he had tried to pursue the Kalabagh Dam project, but was unsuccessful.
The minister rebutted what he called propaganda against him that he had some sort of issue with the dam fund.
“We are working without any fear for the interest of the state,” he said, adding that those who pushed the country towards darkness were advising them on how to run the affairs.
He said through the Ehsas Programme, the government aims to provide employment opportunities to youths.
Regarding accountability of corrupt elements, he maintained that the process would not be halted under any circumstances.
“We have not only started the preliminary works, but for the first time have received a Rs18 billion straight discount,” he said, addressing the premier.
“We have created 27,000-28,000 jobs in the Mohmand and Diamer-Bhasha dam projects,” Vawda said, adding that “for the first time, a minister (Vawda) will from his own pocket, his friends’ pockets and with the help of Pakistanis announce 200-400 businesses and jobs in his own constituency in Karachi” before the 10th fast of Ramazan, in line with the prime minister’s vision for poverty alleviation.
The Mohmand Dam
In this regard, all essential measures have been finalised, and the security in the entire region has been put on high alert.
The project will be completed at the cost of about Rs309.558 billion by the year 2024.
The dam will have a gross storage capacity of 1.293 million acre feet (MAF) water with power generation potential of 800-megawatts and the annual energy production of 2,862 GWh.
Besides, it will irrigate around 16,737 acres of land and ensure supply of water to 160,000 acres of land.
The residents of Peshawar will get 300 million gallons of potable water, whereas issue of water scarcity in Mohmand district would be resolved.
Annual benefits of the project have been estimated at Rs52 billion. The project aims at helping mitigate risk of floods in Peshawar, Charsadda, Nowshera and Mardan.
Earlier in March, the WAPDA had awarded the contract for civil and electro-mechanical construction works at the Mohmand Dam Project to a joint venture between China Gezhouba Group of Companies (CGGC) and Descon Pakistan.
“Wapda has successfully realigned the project after a delay of decades, removing the legal, financial and technical snags.
However, the project will phenomenally contribute towards water, food and energy security of Pakistan,” the WAPDA Chairman (rtd) Lt Gen Muzammil Hussain had said, while speaking to the ceremony held to announce the project.
“We are committed to completing the project as early as possible to cope with the ever increasing needs of water and electricity in the country,” the chairman had stated.
He had added that the construction of the Mohmand Dam would go a long way in stabilising the national economy besides alleviating poverty and ushering in an era of development for the area surrounding the project.
Mohmand dam is being constructed on River Swat about 48 kilometers from Peshawar at confluence of Mohmand and Charsadda district and the dam’s reservoir area extends upstream to Mohmand, Bajaur and other northern districts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Its construction will help national power policy achieve the dual goals of meeting Pakistan’s energy needs in a sustainable manner and ensuring generation of affordable electricity, while helping to reduce existing energy’s demand and supply gap.
Construction of 213 meters high Mohmand Dam will alleviate risk of flood damages to great extend in future. The water reservoir would also control river flow and minimize intensity of floods downstream, therefore, the reservoir would be a great source of flood’s protection and will save soil from fertile land from erosion.
Around 8,675 acres land are being acquired for construction of requisite infrastructure at the dam site besides 56 kilometers long reservoir, irrigation network and re-regulation pond area