The United States on Wednesday pledged to provide $81 million (over Rs8.5 billion) to the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) for the construction of first stage (Kaitu Weir) of the Kurram Tangi Dam project in North Waziristan Agency of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).
In this regard, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and Wapda signed an agreement at a ceremony.
Federal Minister of Water and Power Khawaja Muhammad Asif, US Ambassador David Hale and Wapda Chairman Lieutenant General (Retired) Muzammil Hussain were present.
Speaking on the occasion, the water and power minister called the USAID’s grant of $81 million for stage one of the Kurram Tangi Dam project another milestone in the US civilian assistance programme aimed at making Pakistan prosperous.
He voiced hope that the project would go a long way towards bringing about socio-economic development in far-flung areas in North Waziristan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
Referring to the growing need of water and electricity, he said the government was depending more on hydroelectric power resources and was working on several such projects to produce cheap electricity.
“America and Pakistan have a long history of cooperation in the energy sector,” US Ambassador David Hale said. “The agreement builds on decades of shared efforts to meet Pakistan’s energy needs and help improve lives of millions of Pakistanis.”
He emphasised the importance of overcoming the energy crisis to expedite economic growth in the country.
Pointing to World Bank’s remarks in 2014 that energy crisis was a major hurdle to economic development, the ambassador reiterated his pledge to continue support for the power sector in Pakistan.
Pakistan would add more than 2,400 megawatts of electricity to the national grid with US support, he said.
The Wapda chairman said the Kurram Tangi Dam project would be constructed in two phases. It would have gross water storage capacity of 1.2 million acre feet and electricity generation capacity of 83.4MW.
“Construction work on stage-II of the project will also start soon,” he announced.
Kaitu Weir is the first stage of the project. With the completion of construction work in this phase, more than 16,000 acres of agricultural land will be irrigated and 18MW of electricity will be produced, which will benefit 100,000 Pakistanis.
Under the first stage, funds will be transferred to Wapda to support the construction of a weir on Kaitu River, Shertalla and Spairaga canals, two powerhouses, a transmission line, housing accommodation for the construction and operational staff and an office building for dam construction and operational activities.