Diamer-Bhasha Dam is a concrete-filled gravity dam in planning stage on the River Indus in Kohistan District in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Diamer in Gilgit Baltistan in Pakistan. If completed, it would be the highest dam in world.[1] Project faces numerous issues, specially the lack of availability of land and financing, consequently the project is currentlly stalled.

Diamer-Bhasha Dam
Diamer-Bhasha Dam is located in Pakistan
Diamer-Bhasha Dam
Location of Diamer-Bhasha Dam in Pakistan
LocationKhyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit Baltistan
Coordinates35°31′10.2″N 73°44′21.1″E / 35.519500°N 73.739194°E / 35.519500; 73.739194Coordinates: 35°31′10.2″N 73°44′21.1″E / 35.519500°N 73.739194°E / 35.519500; 73.739194
StatusOn Hold
Opening dateNot Confirmed
Construction costUSD 14 billion (2013 est.)
Dam and spillways
Type of damGravity, roller-compacted concrete
ImpoundsIndus River
Height272 m (892 ft)
Total capacity10,000,000,000 m3 (8,107,132 acre⋅ft)
Active capacity7,900,000,000 m3 (6,404,634 acre⋅ft)
Power Station
Turbines12 x 375 MW
Installed capacity4800 MW
Annual generation19.028 TWh (est.)


The dam site is situated near a place called "Bhasha" in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa-Gilgit Baltistan, hence the name.


In January 2006, the Government of Pakistan under President Pervez Musharraf announced the decision to construct 5 multi-purpose storage dams in the country during next 10–12 years. According to the plan, the Diamer-Bhasha Dam project was proposed to be built in the first phase.[2] In November 2008, the Executive Committee of National Economic Council formally approved the project. Council of Common Interests Pakistan, a constitutional body representing the provinces, also approved the construction of the dam.[1] Detailed drawings of the dam were completed by March 2008.[2] Of the required 35700 acre land, in 2013 17000 acres land was made available to WAPDA at the cost of PKR 5.5 billion from Government of Gilgit-Baltistan and the Ismaili Community.[3][4][5] On 5 December 2016 former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif granted in principle approval to financing plan for the Diamer-Bhasha dam and ordered the secretary of water and power to start physical work on the dam before the end of 2017.[6]



In November 2008, the cost of the Diamer-Bhasha dam was estimated at $12.6 billion,[7][8] over a construction period of 10–12 years.[9] An amount of Rs 27.824 billion is required for the acquisition of land & resettlement of the people to be affected in the wake of the construction of the dam. Under the proposed project, Rs 10.76 billion will be spent for the acquisition of agriculture-barren land, tree & nurseries and Rs 1.638 billion to be utilized for properties and infrastructure, Rs 8.8 billion for establishment of nine model villages, Rs 62,119 million for pay & allowances for administrative arrangements, and Rs 17.7 million for contingent administrative expenses.[10] The project also includes an escalation cost of Rs 2.234 billion at the rate of 6 per cent per year for five years and interest of Rs 4.309 billion during the implementation at the rate of 9 per cent.[11]


On July 4, 2018, the Supreme Court of Pakistan directed the government to begin construction on the dam, as well as the Mohmand Dam, to resolve a water shortage. Chief Justice Saqib Nisar of the court gave a donation of 1 million Pakistani rupees for the construction of the two dams. And set up a fund for the construction of the dam.[12][13] PM Imran Khan urged overseas Pakistanis to contribute to dam fund and donate generously (at least US$1000 per person) on an emergency basis due to possible shortage of water by 2025 that can lead to drought like situation in the country. As of September 2019 the fund collection is way below expectations with only meagre US$9,081,428 (i.e. PKR 1.4 billion) collection updated on the Pakistan Supreme Court's donation website.

Technical design detailsEdit

The project is located on Indus River, about 315 km upstream of Tarbela Dam, 165 km downstream of the Northern Area capital Gilgit and 40 km downstream of Chilas. It will have a height of 272 meters spillway with fourteen gates each 11.5 m × 16.24 m. The gross capacity of the reservoir will be 10 cubic kilometres (8,100,000 acre⋅ft), with a live storage of 7.9 cubic kilometres (6,400,000 acre⋅ft). Two underground powerhouses are being proposed, one on each side of the main dam having six turbines on each side with a total installed capacity of 4500 MW. Upon completion, Diamer-Bhasha Dam would produce 4800 megawatts of hydro electricity, store 10.5 cubic kilometres (8,500,000 acre⋅ft) of water for irrigation and drinking, extend the life of Tarbela Dam located downstream by 35 years, and flood damage by the River Indus downstream during high floods.


The implementation of this project is currently stalled due to several factors.

Increased project risk due to no NOC from IndiaEdit

As of August 2012, the project faced several setbacks due to major sponsors backing out from financing the project, as World Bank and Asian Development Bank both refused to finance the project as according to them its location is in disputed territory and asked Pakistan to get a NOC from neighboring India under the provisions of India-Pakistan Indus Waters Treaty.[14][15]

Financing difficultiesEdit

Pakistan is facing problems in obtaining finance for this project. After failing to obtain NOC from India and subsequent loans from the World Bank and Asian Development Bank,[14] Pakistan dropped its bid in November 2017 to have the dam financed under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as China placed strict conditions including chinese claiming ownership of the project, significantly overestimation of costs by China i.e. $14 billion cost estimates by china against original 12.6 billion, and China also wanted Pakistan to pledge another operational dam as collateral to secure the investment loan.[16]

Land acquisition problemsEdit

This dam could not commence as 1/5 land still to be acquired for reaching total required of 37,500 acres (152 km2).

Unviable canal and irrigation plansEdit

However, in response to using Basha Dam to sideline the Kalabagh Dam, Engineer Anwer Khurshid has stated that "Bhasha dam is no substitute for Kalabagh dam not because of its altitude which is high enough, but because no irrigation canals can be taken out from it because of the hilly terrain. No canals can be taken out from any dam on the Indus except from Kalabagh Dam."[17]

Reduced water in Indus due to new Indian damsEdit

to fully utilize its share of water under the Indus Waters Treaty, India decided to expedite (specially in the aftermath of 2019 Pulwama attack) the constructions of several dam projects such as Shahpurkandi dam project, Baglihar Dam, Ratle Hydroelectric Plant, Dul Hasti Hydroelectric Plant, Salal Hydroelectric Power Station, all of these will reduce the flow of water in Indus in Pakistan because India's unutilised share of water currently flows to Pakistan.[18]

Negative environmental impactEdit

Project will have disasterous impact on the ecology and people. 35,000 people in 4100 households across 31 villages will be impacted, and 6.1 square kilometres (1,500 acres) land will be submerged in 100 square kilometres (25,000 acres) reservoir.[19]

Resettlement of affacted peopleEdit

Displaced 28,000 people will be resettle in 9 villages, but no construction has taken place so far.

Current statusEdit

Its foundation stone was laid by the then Prime Minister of Pakistan on 1998.[1] Pakistan hopes to start construction in April 2020 and complete it in 9 years by Apr 2029. Construction of Mohmand Dam is aimed to start in April 2019 with expected Completion in 6 years by 2025. The project is currently stalled due to lack of land, funds, and approvals/NOCs.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c "PM lays Foundation Stone of Bhasha Dam". The News International. 1998. Retrieved 28 August 2013.
  2. ^ a b "About Bhasha Dam". diamerbhasha.com. Retrieved 28 August 2013.
  3. ^ http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/business/07-Nov-2013/17-000-acres-transferred-to-wapda-for-bhasha-dam
  4. ^ "New beginnings: Progress made on Diamer Bhasha project - The Express Tribune". 7 November 2013.
  5. ^ "Rs 5.5b paid for Bhasha Dam land". Paktribune.
  6. ^ "PM Nawaz signs off on Diamer-Bhasha dam financing plan". Dawn.
  7. ^ "$12.6 billion Diamer-Bhasha Dam approved". PakTribune. 12 November 2008. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
  8. ^ "Diamer-Bhasha Dam financing still on the table: ADB". Business Recorder. 4 September 2012. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
  9. ^ "Dasu power project gets precedence over Bhasha". Dawn. 27 August 2013. Retrieved 27 August 2013.
  10. ^ "Bhasha Dam ground-breaking today". The Nation (Pakistan). 18 October 2011. Retrieved 28 August 2013.
  11. ^ "FBR proposes two schemes to whiten 'black' money". Daily Times (Pakistan). 4 October 2012. Retrieved 28 August 2013.
  12. ^ "CJP donates Rs1m, directs govt to immediately construct two dams | The Express Tribune". The Express Tribune. 2018-07-04. Retrieved 2018-07-16.
  13. ^ "Govt to set up Diamer-Bhasha, Mohmand Dam Fund | The Express Tribune". The Express Tribune. 2018-07-07. Retrieved 2018-07-16.
  14. ^ a b "Donors to set aside Indian pressure over Diamer Bhasha dam: PEW". onlinenews.com.pk. 29 August 2012. Archived from the original on 16 April 2013. Retrieved 8 August 2013.
  15. ^ "Diamer Bhasha Dam: Russia wants to take up project without bidding". The Express Tribune. 12 September 2012. Retrieved 28 August 2013.
  16. ^ Rana, Shahbaz (15 November 2017). "Pakistan stops bid to include Diamer-Bhasha Dam in CPEC". tribune.com.pk. The Express Tribune. Retrieved 19 November 2017.
  17. ^ "CCI approves Kalabagh Dam". The Nation. 2012-06-30. Retrieved 2018-08-04.
  18. ^ "Work to stop water from flowing into Pakistan has started: Govt". The Indian Express. Retrieved 21 August 2019.
  19. ^ "Kick starting Diamer-Bhasha project". Dawn. 11 April 2011. Retrieved 28 August 2013.

External linksEdit