Declining water storage capacity

October 29, 2018

Declining water storage capacity in Pakistan has become a very serious issue as country is already included in the list of water stressed states, having a capacity of storing water for barely 36 days since the intentional disregard for building storage dams by successive governments from mid 70s. Silting has reduced the storage capacity in the Tarbella dam reservoir from 13.681 Million Acre Feet (MAF) to 9.360 MAF. The water storage capacity of Mangla Dam reservoir has also considerably declined. Several countries of the world have 130 days storage capacity. The existing water available resources are 138 MAF with a storage capacity of 13.7 million acre feet. It is only 10 percent of the on hand water resources. Under National Water Policy, accord was reached among the federating units for building Basha and Mohamand dams. But actually it was the directives of Supreme Court that paved the way for fast-tracking the initiation of these dams. The Pak Army, government employees and general public are giving donations for this purpose. Following the completion of these hydropower projects the water storage capacity will rise to 56 days. If the leadership of political parties take on sensible approach and give preference to national interest, then concurrence can be built for the building of the most fitting hydropower project of Kalabagh dam, which has been deferred since 1975. The dam has water storage capacity of 6.1 million acre feet and power generation potential of 2400 MW. At the moment Pakistan hurls available water resources of $ 21 billion into the sea every year. The shortsightedness of PPP leadership and that of Sindhi Nationalist Parties has been a hurdle in pulling off consensus on Kalabagh dam. In Khyber Pukhtunkhwa, the leadership of Awami National Party failed to validate their anti-Kalabagh dam posture with bonafide and comprehensive technical data. The gamble of unreal fear about drowning of some districts of the province and mantra of flood is nothing but a political publicity stunt for survival. Political leaders and people of the five southern districts believe that the dam will provide irrigation for one million acre of fertile land. We hope the Imran Khan government can eliminate the smoke screen produced by the vested interest against Kalabagh dam. Implementation of water conservation strategies for conserving wastage of water resources during irrigation is a must. Incumbent government must include this serious issue in the list of top priorities in order to tackle it.

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