PESHAWAR: The construction of new hydel dams, including Kalabagh dam, were vital to control massive loss of water during monsoon and to meet growing energy and agricultural needs of the ever increasing population of the water starved country, former Chairman WAPDA, Engineer Shamsul Mulk here Wednesday said.
“Pakistan can face a major water crisis if we did not construct hydel dams including Kalabagh and Diamir Bhasha by 2025,” he told APP.
He said the construction of new dams including Kalabagh and Diamir Bhasha were inevitable to overcome the acute energy shortage and to tackle water situation currently being faced by the country.
Terming Kalabagh dam as technically most feasible project, Shams said there was absolutely no harm to Khyber Pakthunkhwa from its construction.
“The reservations being raised by some quarters regarding drowning of Nowshera, Charsaadda, Swabi, Mardan and Peshawar districts after construction of Kalabagh dam were not based on facts and ground realities,” he said.
“Dams are necessary to feed increasing population, increase the cultivation area, boost industrial output and to save the country from becoming a desert,” he said.
Shamsul Mulk said construction of mega dams was imperative for speedy development, and sustained economic and agricultural growth, besides playing key role in employment opportunities generation, poverty alleviation and bringing direct foreign investment to the country.
The massive devastation caused by 2010 floods could had easily been averted by constructing new dams and water reservoirs in all potential areas of the country, he added.
He said Kalabagh Dam was planned with an annual generation capacity of 12 billion units of electricity, at a cost of Rs 1.2 per unit, but due to incessant delays in its construction, WAPDA fulfilled demand by generating electricity by using expensive fuel, which cost the nation around Rs192 billion annually.
He said China and India had built 22,000 and 4500 small, medium and big dams respectively, but Pakistan had comparatively constructed very little number of dams despite having huge water potential stretched from Himalya mountains to Karakoram and Hindu Kush regions.
“Had Pakistan’s water potential was fully tapped in the past, the current worst power load-shedding and water crisis could have easily been averted,” he maintained.
While regretting over not taking issue of construction of new dams seriously, former Chairman WAPDA said it was unfortunate that not a single dam was constructed after Tarbela Dam by any government in the past, and resultantly the country was now at the edge of water crisis.
The underground water level would further drop in the coming years, which would create a lot of problems for the people seeking potable water and this serious issue could be tackled only with the construction of new water reservoirs in the country.
Sumbul Riaz, an economic and agriculture expert, told APP water and energy crisis were taking a heavy toll on the economy and agricultural growth, therefore, water should be conserved at all costs including the rainwater by building new dams.
As per international standards, she said, about 40 per cent of the river flows were required to be stored whereas Pakistan had around13.29 million acre feet (MAF) storage against 58 MAF, which should be a matter of great concern for policy makers and planners, she said.
The high population growth, misuse of water, climate change, poor water management, lack of political will and urbanization were the main reasons behind the water and energy crisis in the country, she added.
Sumbul said cheapest energy could only be generated through hydel resources and construction of big, medium and small dams including Kalabagh Dam crucial to meet the energy and water needs of around 210 million people.
She said the anti Kalabagh Dam elements were responsible for the present massive load shedding, energy and water crisis in the country and urged people to exercise their rights of vote wisely on July 25, 2018.
She warned that the country could face drought like situation by 2025 and serious human issue, if the authorities did not take any immediate action regarding the dam’s construction.
“Yes, Pakistan can make rapid progress like China through better water and energy management and construction of new hydel reservoirs and creating awareness among masses about the misuse of water,” she remarked.
She recommended formulation of a comprehensive national water strategy covering water development and management, raising capacity of existing dams and construction of new dams, including Kalabagh Dam, to provide a safe and better future to the coming generations.