[South Asia] Proposed Pakistan dam can lead to disaster like Chernobyl

Pakistan is building is a 908 ft high RCC dam atop Central Asian fault-line, which can lead to another Chernobyl. The dam site has felt at least three hundred tremors in a month, which make the proposed dam as destructive as hydrogen bomb. Tow major quakes of seven plus magnitude were witnessed in the area recently.
It is scary that Pakistan wants to make a world record by building the world’s highest Roller Compacted Concrete dam to store eight million acre feet (MAF) of water. Pakistan’s top engineer, Suleman Najib has warned “Review the dam. Its destructive power will wipe out everything on the Indus (river basin).”  Najib is the Convenor of Water Resources Development Council of Pakistan. 
 
Yet, neither the all-powerful Pakistani Army, which is footing thirty percent of the bill through Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) nor the civilian government looks concerned.
 
Political parties are opposing the project, which is loved by Punjabi lobby. Awami Tehreek said “Wind up the project…it is tantamount to sprinkling salt’ on the wounds of the Sindh.”
 
“A particular pro-Punjab group has since long been hatching conspiracies against Sindh with the aim of robbing away the smaller province’s share in water,” said Lal Jarwar , party leader, soon after
Pakistan and China inked an agreement to build the multipurpose dam in early May.
 
 
For Pakistani leadership, Bhasha dam, also known as Diamer-Bhasha project is a four decade long dream to ensure water round the year to Punjab fields. One military dictator and three prime ministers had laid its foundation stones between 1998 and 2011. However, the project did not take off. Now Army and Pakistan government intends to realize the dream by 2028 with the help of iron friend, China.    
 
However, many are sceptic about the project. “Given that the dam has been in limbo for almost 15 years, and has gone through problems with financing and resettlement issues throughout that time, the news must be taken cautiously” wrote The Express Tribune. “The 10-plus years it will take to build the time could end up being extended because of uncertainty around the availability of funding.” 
 
Pakistan is facing fund crunch so China has become  70 percent partner.  The the total cost of the Diamer-Bhasha dam was Pakistani Rupees 1,406.5billion initially, which has become Rupees 442 billion now. While the project would be a part of the ambitious China Pakistan Economic Corridor for
which Gilgit is the gateway, it still remains mystery how and why China got involved.
 
During his 2015 visit to Pakistan, Chinese President Xi Jinping said he had no interest on Bhasha dam and he preferred a smaller (720-megawatt) hydro-power project in Pakistan held ‘Azad’ Kashmir “as the first project for his $40 billion Silk Road fund to build infrastructure in Asia”.  
 
The answer lies in a Covid-19 fallout as China wants a market for its workers and Pakistan wants a issue to divert attention from burning domestic issue. The attempt to malign the image of India and demonising its leaders for their acts in Jammu and Kashmir have not yield the results.
 
 Respected newspaper Dawn said, “During its construction, the project is expected to create
16,550 jobs (mostly for the local population), generate a large demand for cement and steel, and
stimulate economic growth, which is estimated to contract by up to 1.5pc owing to the pandemic”.
 
China is known to get its own labourers for overseas ventures, the local job potentialin Pakistan  will
remain a mirage even as an estimated 35000 people from 31 villages will become homeless as the
dam reservoir will swallow 25000 acres.
 
Also, Pakistan has turned blind eye to the flip-side of the Bhasha dam with 14 gates, 5 outlets for flushing silt, and a diversion system of two tunnels and a diversion canal.
 
American and Pakistani experts have cautioned against building the dam at the present site.
Noted Pakistani geologist Dr Imran Ahmed Khan, and leading architect Sameeta Ahmed told
Parliament that the dam could end up as an expensive misadventure.  However, Pakistan establishment ignored it, which justifies American expert Michael Rubin’s comment that   Pakistan has become “a colonial vassal” of China.