Water projects: a ray of hope
WAPDA has prepared a report titled Hydro Potential in Pakistan in November 2011 which is quite illuminating about the potential and its utilisation so far.
It has been reported that out of 73 million acres cultivable land, 56 million acres are irrigated while 20 million acres of the rain-fed area can be irrigated if the full potential is exploited.
Pakistan had a storage capacity of 15.74 million acre feet in 1976 which has been reduced to 12.10 MAF in 2010 due to excessive sediment inflows. The three storages, Tarbela, Mangla, Chashma, are expected to lose 6.27 MAF of their capacity by 2025, i.e., equal to one mega storage dam.
As such, only the Diamer Bhasha dam appears to be the only hope in the distant future as the Kalabagh dam is no longer in the picture, being buried for the moment according to the declaration by the PPP government.
As far as power generation is concerned, the total potential of the Indus River is 38,608 MW and of its tributaries 5,726 MW, totalling 44,334 MW, while power generation at present is hardly 13 per cent of the total potential.
The power generation cost of hydel power, including the Mangla Dam, is Rs1.06 per unit as compared to Rs9.07 per unit of thermal power by IPPs and Rs14.74 of thermal power produced by rental power, which shows the enormous difference between hydel power and that of RPPs that has emerged as a major scandal of our times.
There is a long list of small dams storing hardly one MAF of water which is negligible. There are some future projects like the Bunji Dam with generation of 7,100 MW and the Akhori Dam with six MAF of storage and 600 MW of power generation, along with Tarbela and Mangla, raising to compensate for the loss of storage and power generation.
The fate of Bunji Dam rests with the ‘no objection’ from India being located in a so-called disputed area and of the Akhori Dam with the linkage with the Kalabagh Dam which would not mature in the near future.
It appears there is no tangible and concrete project in the pipeline, though many glimmers and gleams in the eye like the Bhasha dam exist which God only knows when these would be completed, with the many funding problems at hand.
DR M. YAQOOB BHATTI