Diamer Bhasha Dam Fund: Millions of dollars start to pour in from overseas Pakistanis
ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Imran Khan’s recent speech calling the expatriate Pakistanis to donate for construction of Diamer Bhasha and Mohmand dams have triggered a lively debate among the Pakistanis including those living abroad on social media showing their excitement to generously contribute in the development of the dams.
The expatriate Pakistanis seem to be more eager than ever to donate to the fund after receiving a call from the PM whom they consider an honest and dedicated man.
The social media users are also encouraging others to donate to the fund by posting on their social media walls, the proofs of their donations made for the fund.
A representative of Pakistani community from Qatar, Malik Qaiser Awan, who is working as the coordinator in IPF group of companies Qatar announced through a video message on social media to immediately transfer US$100,000 to Prime Minister and Chief Justice of Pakistan Fund for Diamer Bhasha and Mohmand dams on behalf of Pakistani community living in Qatar.
“We are a group of some friends from Pakistanis living in Qatar and we have decided to send at least $1 million and will continue sending the money until the target has completed,” he said adding Imran Khan was a trustworthy as he delivered by successfully managing cancer hospitals and university in the country.
Yesterday $2.9 million dollars were contributed in a private TV Channel special transmission.
Zafar Iqbal, a mechanical engineer in Masqat, Oman told this scribe that he among all his other Pakistanis living in Masqat were very passionate to make their contribution to the fund.
He said the prime minister was himself a devoted and loyal person and people trust him that he would not let the donated money waste away.
He alleged that in the past the corrupt rulers ate up the donated money collected for “Qarz utaro mulk sanwaro” scheme.
The enthusiasm is not being shown by the well-off people only but the low-income people living abroad are also quite passionate in this regard as a video go viral on social media of a taxi driver living in United Arab Emirate (UAE) who said that he would also, donate around $50 to the fund according to his affordability.
Before the appeal made by the PM, expatriate Pakistanis have shown a lukewarm response to the fund as only Rs 21.5 million was contributed by them out of the total received the amount of Rs 1.94 billion, according to data updated by State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) on September 6, 2018.
The SBP has also announced through a circular that all issuing and acquiring banks in Pakistan will not charge any service fee including interchange fee, merchant discount rate, transaction fee etc on all transactions from abroad that will be made through payment cards (debit, credit or prepaid cards).
Meanwhile, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Senator Shibli Faraz while talking to a news channel hoped that the fund would receive the contribution from the Pakistanis living abroad, of around one to two billion dollars in next 6 months.
According to experts, if the government managed to accumulate the fund of around Rs 400-500 billion, work on Diamer Bhasha dam could be started by mid of next year.
Under the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP), 2018-19, the federal government has already allocated Rs 23.68 billion for the dam, while total PSDP share for the project has been fixed at Rs 232 billion which would be disbursed in next few years during the course of construction of the dam.
Back in April 2018, the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC) had approved the construction of Diamer Bhasha dam at an initial estimated cost of Rs 474 billion.
However, the total cumulative cost of the dam would be at least Rs 1400 billion once power generation facilities are accounted for.
The gigantic project will have 6.4 million acre-feet live water storage capacity with the installed power capacity of 4,500MW. After completion, the project would increase national water storage capacity of up to 45 days and would enhance lifespan on downstream reservoirs including Tarbela Dam.