The mega-dam being crowdfunded by Pakistan’s top judge

One of the dams would be among the biggest in the world. But is the project for real or is it a monumental folly, as some are calling it?

Cash-poor Pakistan is crowdfunding a drive to collect almost $17 billion from its citizens, officials, businesses and stars in order to build two massive dams to help counter a future water crisis.

The dam at Diamer-Bhasha in the north-west would have a generating capacity of 4,500MW and stand 272m (892ft) high, making it the world’s sixth tallest dam, if it’s ever built.

It would block off a huge valley system on the upper reaches of the Indus river. as it is located near the Himalayan peak Nanga Parbat.

The dam has been talked about for more than a decade. Plans to begin construction were given fresh impetus this summer by Pakistan’s top judge, Chief Justice Saqib Nisar instead of water expecrts or ministers.

He has set up a fund to raise $14bn to build the mega-dam in Diamerg, and $2.5bn to build an 800MW dam in Mohmand, about 120km (75 miles) to the south-west while following a report predicting severe water shortages in the country by 2025. Justice Nisar contributed roughly $8,000 to the fund and became the first donor.

“It is possible that we will get more money than the required amount,” said the judge.

These include various branches of the military, which have donated a whopping $7.3m. Businesses, officials, sports stars, school pupils and other ordinary people are among those who have also stumped up cash.