Pakistani legal expert warns about Diamer-Bhasha dam’s impact on climate change

Islamabad: A legal expert in Pakistan has opined that the construction of the Diamer-Bhasha dam may have a severe impact on the climate change.

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The Pakistani government recently signed a Rs 442 billion contract with a joint venture of China Power and Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) for the construction of the Diamer-Bhasha dam.

Fazila Amber, Advocate of High Court Pakistan, said even as new dams are widely seen as sources of green energy, they also cause substantial and often unacknowledged environmental damage. 

Meanwhile, warning the impact of the dam on climate change, Fazila Amber, Advocate of High Court Pakistan, wrote in his  Op-ed in Daily Times: “Apparently, dams appear to conserve water by storing it, but the bigger picture shows the opposite. In many ways, the water crisis results from the lack of governance, failure of the public institutions to manage resources for the well-being of humans and ecosystems.”

“Water storage worsens the impact of climate change by releasing greenhouse gases, depriving ecosystems of nutrients, destroying habitats, increasing sea levels, wasting water, and displacing poor communities. If poorly maintained, it increases flood risk endangering lives and putting a significant financial strain on local governments and industry,” she said.

“The threat to health and water pollution-related mortality is higher for at-risk socioeconomically disadvantaged people and ethnic and racial minority groups. The consequences for vulnerable groups are a concern, and for those poverty struck communities through food insecurity and worse agricultural outcomes,” she said.

She further said: “Although these projects and decisions claim long term planning keeping national and economic interest at heart, its translation into public interest has not been a particularly noticeable priority. The potential fallout of an economic and ecological downturn on Pakistan as well as Globally are likely to be profound and inevitable if not dealt as an upcoming crisis yet to face.”

The Chinese state-run firm holds 70 per cent and the FWO, a commercial arm of the Armed Forces of Pakistan, 30pc share in the consortium, reports Dawn News.

The project will include construction of a diversion system, main dam, access bridge and the 21MW Tangir hydropower project.

The eight million acre feet (MAF) reservoir with 272-metre height will be the tallest roller compact concrete (RCC) dam in the world, reported Dawn News.