Imran Khan during his visit to the site of the Diamer-Bhasha Dam project in Chalas on Wednesday. Twitter photo
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday kicked off construction work of the Diamer-Bhasha Dam project and said Pakistan faced heavy losses because of wrong decisions taken during nineties.
He also addressed a public meeting in Chalas, Gilgit-Baltistan, and said in the past projects were prepared keeping to get voters’ support, which damaged the economy.
He vowed to build the "biggest dam in Pakistan's history" and visited the site of the dam where he was briefed on the mega project.
In a tweet, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information retired Lt-Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa said that the project will generate 4,500MW of hydel power and provide at least 16,000 jobs.
Imran said that nations only progress when they think of the future and when they invest in their resources, uplifting those segments of society that have been left behind.
"The decisions made in the nineties to generate electricity using imported furnace oil affected our current account deficit. When there is pressure on foreign exchange, economic conditions start deteriorating."
The prime minister stated that when the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) took over the government, it inherited a current account deficit of Rs20 billion, the largest in the country's history.
"The value of the rupee started falling after deciding to generate electricity from imported oil; when the rupee depreciates, all imports become more expensive and inflation rises. This affects the poor people."
The premier vowed that with this project, the government was going towards building the "biggest dam in Pakistan's history."
"This will be our third dam. China has made around 5,000 big dams, but have a total of about 80,000 dams. From this you can gauge the massive mistakes we have made in the past.
"The decision to build this dam was taken 50 years ago. There can be no better site for constructing a dam, it is a natural dam. Forty, 50 years ago this was decided, and work on the project has begun today. This is one of the biggest reasons why we haven't progressed."
Imran said that the government will now move towards building more dams on rivers, which will lessen pressure on foreign exchange and allow Pakistan to generate its own fuel.
He added that generating electricity from water instead of furnace oil or coal will prevent, will also have a positive impact on global warming and climate change. "The benefits are dual. We won't have to import fuel and it won't affect our climate negatively."
The premier said that the project would also generate job opportunities for people living in the region. "I am familiar with Gilgit-Baltistan and have visited Chilas on multiple occasions in the past 30 years. I am well aware how much the area depends on tourism and how much they need tourism during the summer months."
An aerial view of the Diamar-Basha Dam in Chalas.
He said that he will speak to the chief minister to prepare standard operating procedures (SOPs) for resurrecting the tourism industry that has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We can learn from the world, tourism is slowly resuming. It won't be the same as it was before the pandemic hit, but we can start opening it slowly and start developing SOPs for it," he said, adding that help will also be extended by the National Command and Control Centre (NCOC) in this regard.
Speaking at the launch of this year's monsoon tree plantation drive near Kahuta, Imran said that in order to address the growing pollution levels and national environmental degradation it was vital that concerted efforts were made to plant trees extensively across the country, reports Dawn news.
The prime minister personally drove the vehicle setting aside the protocol. He visited the modular carts placed in G-11 Markaz under Ehsaas Programme’s Rerhi Baan initiative. He questioned the cart owners about the position of their businesses.
Interacting with the public via telephone on Sunday, the prime minister said Pakistan has come out of economic crisis against the expectations of the opposition and it will now move forward on the economic front.
The prime minister expressed dissatisfaction over the performance of the current local governments and said a system was being introduced at the village level under which funds would be transferred directly to the councils.
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