IMPORTANCE OF DAMS IN PAKISTAN

(RIZWAN NAZIR, Gilgit)

RIZWAN NAZIR

Dams are important in every country, not just to help in the hydroelectricity sector and agriculture but also for the day to day human uses as well. Despite spending millions on development projects like metro bus and motorways, the country still lags behind in assuring the most basic human need: water. There aren’t enough dams in Pakistan: in fact the only major dams built were only mangla and Tarbela since then, no focus has been given to this area despite the fact that statistics are nothing but alarming. According to the new facts and figures, the development of hydropower projects is important in order to meet the increasing demand. Due to the increasing population, the per capita water available is decreasing and the natural process of sedimentation is further deteriorating the situation.

The Indus river system authority as reported that the country wastes about 21 billion dollars’ worth of water every years just because there aren’t enough proper storage facilities. It has recommended that considering the current situation of Pakistan, it needs about three dams the size of Mangla dam to store this extra water. There are no arrangements to store water in monsoon days when there is abundant incoming of water and it all ends up flooding areas and eventually into the sea. The already present dams are decades old and due to this the silt deposits in them have reduced their ability to store water as much as they did before.

It is estimated that if the situation continuous to go like this, by the year 2025 Pakistan will lose about 22 billion cubic meters water. The Pakistan council to research in water resources has warned the authorities that the water shortage expected din 2025 will be much worse than that which occurred in 1990. There are organizations which are trying to make the public aware of this issue that is going to strike in just a matter of few years. The awareness will help people get responsible for their own part in which they will try to conserve water as much as they can. Nonetheless, the level of this problem requires measures on a large scale.

Kalabagh dam is one matter that is under constant discussion for years because it is considered to be the only solution that will completely solve the water crisis. The proposed hydroelectric dam is planned to construct on the Indus river in the Mianwali district. If this dam gets constructed, it will generate about 3,600 megawatts of electricity which is a great considering the current shortage of water and electricity as a result. This project will bring in multiple benefits and in monetary terms. About 1600 crore will be generate annually through sale of electricity. In addition to this, it will irrigate about 7 million acre of land which will be provided to all 4 provinces.

This project has been most researched and investigated than any other project and has been talked about at all levels. It was in the limelight primarily during the rule of Zia Ul Haq but nothing came concrete from these discussions. Punjab has been in the favor of this project but Sindh and KPK on the other hand are opposing this due to a number of political and technical reasons. Keeping this aside, the need for dams cannot be ignored and it is time for governments to put aside their differences and take this matter seriously.

All the stakeholders need to sit together and reach on a consensus on water management. In this matter, they need to consider India ‘s strategy as well where they control water supply according to the climatic patterns and make sure that Pakistan has to suffer the consequence . There is need for long terms as well as short term strategies to overcome this major issue. Both small and large dams are therefore needed . It doesn’t matter if funds aren’t available to construct large dams, small dams can provide water to numerous areas.

According to Water Aid, Pakistan is one of the 36 most water-stressed countries in the world. Pakistan is also in the top 10 of countries with the most people living without clean drinking water. Currently, 16 million people in Pakistan have no other option than collecting unsafe water for drinking and cleaning, leading to massive amounts of water-borne disease.

Available water per capita has dropped from 5,600 to 903 cubic meters, as of 2016. At the current levels of consumption, this number is expected to drop to 500 cubic meters per person in the coming years.
While water supply and storage are shrinking, Pakistan's population is rapidly growing, placing greater stress on the already taxed water system. Experts believe Pakistan's existing water policy and systems will be unable to sustain the current levels of growth .Since so many of Pakistan's citizens rely on agriculture for gainful activity, water scarcity in Pakistan would spell economic disaster and famine. A water crisis could even become an issue of national security, since trans boundary water resources have historically been a significant source of tension with nuclear rival India.

Since Pakistan has started the construction of Mohmand and Diamer Bhasha Dam. Diamer Bhasha Dam is expected to generate 4500 MW of electricity and has a storage capacity of 8.1 MAF. It is my humble request to every citizen living in Pakistan to donate as much as they can as water now has become a national issue.

Now, with the PTI’s governments in control, a huge responsibility stays on their shoulders. Currently, the biggest issue that Pakistan is facing is of water crisis and the consequent electricity shortage Dams are thought to be the only solution to this and it is high time that concerned authorities realize the sensitivity of this situation and take control as soon as possible.

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