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About Bhasha Dam


The President of Pakistan during his national address on 17th January 2006 announced the decision of Government to construct 5 multi-purpose storages in the country during next 10 -12 years. Diamer Basha Dam Project will be undertaken in the first phase. Work on the project started after the ground-breaking ceremony by the President of Pakistan. On completion of detailed design and tender documents, the construction of Diamer-Bhasha Dam - the world's highest Roller Compacted Concrete Dam will commence.

The project

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. The proposed dam would have a maximum height of 270 m, and impound a reservoir of about 7,500,000 acre feet (9.25×109 m3), with live storage of more than 6,400,000 acre feet (7.89×109 m3). Mean annual discharge of Indus River at the site is 50,000,000 acre feet (6.2×1010 m3). Thus the dam will impound 15% of the annual river flow. The dam project would cover an area of 110 km2 and extend 100 km upstream of the damsite up to Raikot Bridge on Karakoram Highway (KKH).

Need for the Project

Agriculture is the backbone of Pakistan’s economy. Pakistan today is among one of the World’s fastest growing population, now estimated as over 150 million. Due to lack of large river regulation capability through sizeable storages, the country is already facing serious shortages in food grains. Given the present trend, Pakistan could soon become one of the food deficit countries in the near future. Therefore, there is a dire need to build storages for augmenting agriculture production.

Tarbela, Mangla and Chashma reservoirs have already lost about 5,000,000 acre feet (6.2×109 m3) due to sedimentation. It is estimated that by year 2012, this loss would increase to 6,000,000 acre feet (7.4×109 m3), almost equal to the original combined capacity of Mangla and Chashma reservoirs. Due to complete stoppage of any sizable multi-purpose storage development after commissioning of Tarbela Dam in 1976, sustainability of existing irrigated agriculture of Pakistan is in serious jeopardy. The President has taken a very bold initiative by taking the decision to construct Diamer Basha Dam Project.

The present demand of electricity in country is above 17,000 MW, which is estimated to cross 22,000 MW by the year 2010. A large-scale injection of power thus becomes inevitable. Hydropower will provide the required electricity at affordable price. Contribution of 4500 MW power from Diamer Basha Dam will go a long way in alleviating this situation.

Project Benefits

  • Availability of about 6,400,000 acre feet (7.89×109 m3) annual surface face water storage for supplementing irrigation supplies during low flow periods
  • Harnessing of renewable source of clean and cheap energy through installed capacity of 4500 MW
  • Reduction of dependence on thermal power, thus saving foreign exchange
  • Employment opportunity, particularly to the locals, during the construction and operation
  • Creation of massive infrastructure leading to overall socio-economic uplift of the area and standard of living of people.

    Environment & Resettlement*

    (After Reducing Dam Height by 10m)

  • No. of villages affected 30
  • No. of Houses Affected 2200
  • Population affected 22,000
  • Agricultural land submerged 1,500 acres (6.1 km2)
  • Area under reservoir 25,000 acres (100 km2)
  • Length of KKH submerged 100 km
  • Proposed new settlements 9
  • Infrastructure Electricity, roads, water supply, schools, health centres etc.

    Subject to refinement during detailed design stage

    Salient Features

  • LOCATION: The Dam will be located on the River Indus in Northern Pakistan, about 315 km upstream of Tarbela Dam, 165 km downstream of the Northern Areas capital of Gilgit and 40 km downstream of Chilas.
  • MAIN DAM Maximum Height: 270 m Type Roller Compacted Concrete (RCC)
  • DIVERSION SYSTEM 2 No. Diversion tunnels 1 No. Diversion canal Upstream and Downstream Cofferdams
  • MAIN SPILLWAY No. of gates 9 Size of gate 16.5 ? 15.0 m
  • RESERVOIR LEVEL 1160 m Gross capacity 7,300,000 acre feet (9.00×109 m3) Live capacity 6,400,000 acre feet (7.89×109 m3) Min. operation level El. 1060 m
  • OUTLETS Intermediate level 8 Low level 4
  • POWERHOUSE(S) 2 Total installed capacity 4500 MW Location and type Toe of the Dam (one each on the right and left side) No. of units 8, each of 560 MW Average generation 16,500 Gwh/year
  • ESTIMATED COST (YEAR 2008) US$12 Billion

    Total Cost & Capacity of the Project

    The cost of the Diamer-Bhahsa dam is $12 billion (2008) and it will have a storage capacity of 6,340,000 acre feet (7.82×109 m3) as against the earlier proposed 7,340,000 acre feet (9.05×109 m3). However, it will have a power generation capacity of 4,500 megawatts.

    A huge amount of Rs 27.824 billion is required for the acquisition of land and 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 and nurseries and Rs 1.638 billion to be utilised for properties & 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. 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.

    It is expected that the detailed drawings of the dam would be completed by March 2008, immediately after which construction work shall begin.

    Discovery of Buddhist artifacts

    On April 4, 2008, it was reported in several major South Asian newspapers that Buddhist artifacts, possibly numbering in the thousands, have been recovered at the site of the Diamer-Basha Dam.[1] According to these articles, the beleaguered engineering firm Lahmeyer International,[2] which has been involved in planning out the dam, has suggested a museum be built to house the artifacts. Also, an unnamed German scholar affiliated with a German archaeological university (possibly the German Archaeological Institute) has traveled to Pakistan to study the artifacts.[3]

    The Government of Pakistan has now decided to secure and relocate all items of archaeological significance from the areas that will be inundated by the Diamer-Bhasha Dam and its reservoir and to place them in a newly constructed museum near the Dam site.