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Diamer Bhasha Dam, Pakistan


The President of Pakistan during his national address on 17th January 2006 announced the decision to construct 5 multi-purpose water storages in the country over the next 10 -12 years. The Diamer Basha Dam Project, on the river Indus and closed to the Tarbela dam, will be one of these and will be undertaken in the first phase. It was announced as the worlds highest Roller Compacted Concrete Dam. The projects foundation stone was laid in 2011 with construction planned to be completed in 2016. The project is estimated to cost over US$8.5 billion with a reservoir covering 20,000 ha that will flood 100 kilometers of the Karakoram highway, and the villages and farms of over 35,000 people (1). It would provide 4500 MW of electricity to the national grid.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Diamer Bhasha Dam, Pakistan
State or province:Northern Pakistan
Location of conflict:Chilaas
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Water Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Interbasin water transfers/transboundary water conflicts
Dams and water distribution conflicts
Specific commodities:Land
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The project is estimated to generate 4,500 MW.

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Project area:20,000: reservoir
Level of Investment for the conflictive project8,500,000,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:300
Start of the conflict:2006
Company names or state enterprises:Lahmeyer from Germany - exploratory phase
AECOM from Canada - exploratory phase
Mott MacDonald from India - exploratory phase
China Three Gorges Corporation (CTG ) from China - exploratory phase
Relevant government actors:Ministry of Water & Power of Pakistan, Water and Power Development Authority [WAPDA]
International and Finance InstitutionsAsian Development Bank (ADB)
The World Bank (WB) from United States of America
US Agency for International Development (USAID)
Inter-American Development Bank (IADB)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:International Rivers, Pakistan Fisherfolks Forum, Local parties
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Land occupation
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Potential: Air pollution, Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Global warming
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Deaths
Other Health impacts0
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusUnder construction
Conflict outcome / response:Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Violent targeting of activists
The death of two protestors was due to police opening fire during a street protest in 2010. The newpaper The News reported as follows: Dam Troubles The News (Pakistan) Saturday, February 20, 2010 Although only in its very early stages, the building of Bhasha dam appears fraught with difficulty, death and disruption. The police fired on protesters in Chilas who were angry at the way in which those affected by the building of the new - and essential - dam were being treated. They were demanding a share of the royalties generated by the dam, an increase in the compensation awarded to them and resolution of the border dispute between Gilgit-Baltistan and NWFP. Two protesters died in the firing, others were injured and the local populace displayed their displeasure by burning down the offices of the assistant commissioner, the superintendent of police and two police checkpoints. They also burned government vehicles and blocked Karakoram Highway in both directions for several hours ? and all this before work on the dam has got into top gear. Paramilitary forces and police reinforcements have been sent to stabilise the situation. (...)
Proposal and development of alternatives:Small scale hydro projects and a redefinition of energy policies and strategy by the central government.
Providing electricity to small villages through community- or family- based devices for solar, wind and small hydro power.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Despite the protests, the project has been implemented and construction of the plant is ongoing.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Pomeranz, K. The Great Himalayan Watershed, New Left Review 2009

(2) Schneider, K. Fast track power generation
[click to view]

(1) International Rivers
[click to view]

Official website of the project
[click to view]

The Tribune, Diamer-Bhasha Dam: Kohistan villagers continue blockade of KKH for third day
[click to view]

The Nation, Nationalists protest against Bhasha Dam across Sindh July 20, 2010
[click to view]

(4) Dawn. com Pakistan seeks greater US support for Diamer-Bhasha dam
[click to view]

(3) Pakistan Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA)
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Rising Protests Against Diamer Basha Dam
[click to view]

[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Daniela Del Bene
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:194
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