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Donating for dams

36 336 5160

ONE can appreciate the chief justice of Pakistan’s sensitivity to the growing water crisis in Pakistan, but with all due respect this is not how infrastructure finance is done. You do not crowd-source a mega dam. The fact that this even needs to be said is embarrassing, to say the least.

Just consider a few questions that arise when trying to use voluntary donations to fund the Diamer-Bhasha dam, whose cost has been given as Rs1.450 trillion. This figure is taken from a briefing given by water and power officials at a hearing of the Senate Standing Committee on Planning, Development and Reform. The cost of reservoir construction was given as Rs650 billion, and the rest for power turbines and associated infrastructure, and land acquisition and resettlement.

Now let’s do some math on this. As of writing, the total amount deposited in this account was Rs32 million. Since the account is shown as being open since July 6, let’s assume only three of those days were functioning; that comes to almost Rs10m per day. Next let’s assume this will pick up pace, since tacit pressure has come to apply on banks to raise funds from their employees (in a meeting held on Tuesday). Exactly how ‘voluntary’ the contributions will be is a separate conversation. For the moment, if we assume that on average, the account sees an inflow of Rs20m per day (which is highly optimistic), then it will take 72,500 days to reach the target, or 199 years.

Public finance is not a joke, the state........

© Dawn