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Monday, February 23, 2009

China to Help Pakistan Build Dam

YICHANG (China), Feb 22: Pakistan and China signed an agreement on Sunday for cooperation in the field of hydel-power generation.

Wapda chairman Shakeel Durrani and president of China’s Three Gorges Project Corporation Li Yong’an signed the agreement. President Asif Ali Zardari attended the signing ceremony.

Under the agreement, China will extend technical assistance to Pakistan in hydel-power generation.

Earlier, Mr Li briefed President Zardari on salient features of the dam, the world’s largest with a capacity to generate 22,500 megawatts of electricity. Later, President Zardari visited the dam and talking to reporters stressed the need for Pakistan to benefit from its relations with China and sought China’s help to build dams in Pakistan to meet its growing energy requirement.

“Pakistan has not benefited to the extent that it should have from its relations with China. We would like China to help us in the construction of a dam similar to this one,” he said. “After having seen this dam, I think nothing is impossible to achieve. Let’s try and conceive such projects which can meet our future energy requirement,” he said.

The Three Gorges Hydropower Complex consists of a dam, a hydropower plant and shipping facilities. Its reservoir submerged 632 square-kilometres of land and it took 17 years to complete. The dam meets over half of China’s electricity needs.

Read it all here.

This project requires careful analysis.

The World Bank once approved a huge dam project for India that meant submerging many villages of tribal peoples. India promised to provide land for the displaced peoples but was not able to keep that promise. The anti-dam movement grew and eventually the World Bank withdrew support, but the battle does on. With India and China we are speaking about thousands of miles being affected. Pakistan doesn't have the land to develop a project as large as either of those nations. With India and China, the rural peoples suffered in order for the cities to receive water. Likely this would be the case in Pakistan also, further angering the tribal areas.

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