India will protest China’s new offer to fund a controversial hydro-electric-cum-irrigation project, which Pakistan wants to build on the Indus River in an area it has illegally occupied.
Though New Delhi’s strong objection in the past had prompted the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank to reject Islamabad’s plea for funding the Diamer-Bhasha dam, Beijing has of late offered to support it by making it a part of the proposed China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
New Delhi took note of the media reports from Islamabad, quoting chairman of the Water and Power Development Authority of Pakistan Muzammil Hussain as saying Beijing had offered to fund the Diamer-Bhasha project.
Hussain apparently told the Standing Committee on Planning, Development and Reforms of the National Assembly of Pakistan that Beijing and Islamabad had been seriously considering making the project a part of CPEC.
The Diamer-Bhasha dam is proposed to be built on the Indus River in Gilgit Baltistan, which is part of the areas India accuses Pakistan of illegally occupying in Kashmir.
The project is envisaged to consist of a huge reservoir for storage of 6.3 million acre feet of water and two power stations with a total installed generation capacity of 4,500 MW. It was originally conceived by Pakistan in 2006, but could not make much progress as international lending agencies declined to fund the project because of New Delhi’s objections.
Hussain was quoted as saying that the cost of the project had been estimated to be $14.49 billion. Another media report from Islamabad indicated that the Pakistan government was expecting to commence works on the project next year.
India is also opposed to China’s One Belt One Road project, as the CPEC is a component of the ambitious cross-continental connectivity initiative envisaged by Chinese President Xi Jinping.