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 has reported that the country wastes about 21 billion dollars’ worth of water every year 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 of 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 big 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 this 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 generated 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 out 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 consequences. 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 help to provide water to numerous areas.
Now, with the PTI’s government in control, a huge responsibility stays on their shoulder. Currently, the biggest issue that Pakistan is facing is of the 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.