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Resettlement issue threatens Ghazi Barotha funding

The faltering resettlement of around 1150 people displaced by the Tarbela dam is affecting the release of World Bank funds for the US$2.5 billion Ghazi Barotha hydro project (GBHP) in Pakistan.

The displaced population has so far refused the government’s offer of resettlement in the Sindh province. The World Bank has now told Pakistan that funding for the GBHP will not be available until it is satisfied with the resettlement of people affected by the Tarbela dam.

The GBHP is nearing completion, but funding is required to take the project to production. Pakistan expects to raise about 50% of the required finance locally, while the balance is to be funded externally. Pakistan’s Water And Power Development Authority (WAPDA) has recently sold new debentures and plans to float another issue shortly to meet its financing requirement during the current fiscal year.

The GBHP is a run-of-the-river project designed to utilise the head available on the Indus river between the Tarbela dam near Ghazi and the confluence of the Haro and Indus rivers near Barotha. In this reach the Indus drops by about 76m within a distance of 63km. The water released from Tarbela is diverted at the barrage, 7km downstream of the dam, into the power canal. The concrete-lined power canal has the capacity to convey up to 1650m, to the 1450 (5 x 290)MW power complex near Barotha.