U.S. based international consulting and engineering firm MWH has been tapped to conduct a social and environmental impact assessment on a contentious gravity dam in Pakistan.
MWH won the $18 million cost-plus-fixed-fee completion contract from the U.S. Agency for International Development, which launched the impact assessment in an effort to identify and address any adverse effect the Diamer-Bhasha Dam Project may have on the nearby communities and the environment.
The project has been mired in controversy for years, with several donors expressing interest to fund construction of the dam but later on pulling out for various reasons. Once completed, the dam is expected to yield up to 4,500 megawatts of hydropower-generated electricity, producing up to 18,100 gigawatt-hours. Baseline data from Pakistan’s Water and Power Development Authority, however, noted that the dam could affect as many as 28,560 people in 31 villages and submerge 2,660 acres of agricultural land.
Over the next two years, MWH is expected to prepare a scoping statement that provides a preliminary assessment of the dam’s social and environmental impact, and identify any possible modifications to the project’s design that could mitigate potentially adverse effects. MWH should also provide a comprehensive plan to address the dam’s negative impact, including resettling local villages and projected costs for doing so.