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Water vision: 2025

Presently the country is facing serious water crisis due to the increasing population and the declining water resources. Since the construction of the Mangla Dam , the population has risen to 145 million and is estimated to go up to 280 million by the year 2025.
Water vision: 2025
With the increase in population not only the demand for water for food crops will increase but requirements for drinking water and electricity will also rise. On the other hand, the storage loss by the year 2002 due to sedimentation of the Tarbela Dam was 3.03 maf (26 p.c.), the Mangla Dam 1.18 maf (20 p.c.), the Chashma barrage 0.37 maf (43 p. c.) with a total loss of 4.58 maf (25 per cent) of the original storage capacity of 18.37 maf.

This may further decline by 6MAF by 2010 which is virtually equal to the original storage capacity of 5.9 maf of the Mangla Dam constructed in 1967 and is nearly equal to the storage capacity of 6.1 maf of the proposed Kalabagh Dam.

Unfortunately the Kalabagh Dam has been made a contentious issue between the provinces due to lack of technical information and hearsay. According to the comprehensive studies of highly competent and renowned national/international consultants, the Kalabagh project is technically viable and economically feasible.

Even some changes have been made in its original plan to satisfy some genuine fears of the provinces, but its opposition still continues at the expanse of national harmony.

Had its construction been started in 1993 as per plan, it would have stored 6.1 maf water and generated 3600 mw hydropower saving the country from the current water and hydropower shortage. However, the present government, realizing the gravity of water shortage has initiated the programme of water vision 2025. Under the programme, Wapda has initiated 10 hydropower projects which will generate 2817.4 mw power. Besides, a number of water storage projects will be completed in three phases.

The priority of water sector projects under phase-1 of water vision 2025 programme are Gomal Dam (NWFP), Mirani Dam and Mithan kot barrage at Kachhi canal (Balochistan) raising of Mangla Dam (Azad Kashmir), Greater Thal canal phase-1 (Punjab) and Thar/Rainee canals phase-1 (Sindh).

The total cost of these projects will be $2.467 billion with a construction period of five years. The feasibility study of Bhasa Dam site will also be initiated during the phase-1.

Under the phase-11, Hingol Dam (Balochistan) and Satpara Dams (Northern Areas), Chashma Right Bank canal and Khurram Tangi Dam (NWFP), phase-11 of the Greater Thal canal Akhori and Sanjwal Dams (Punjab), Phase-11 of Thar/Rainee canals, Gajnai and Sehwan barrage (Sindh) will be completed in 3-6 years except Basha Dam which will take 8-10 years for its completion. The total cost of phase-11 projects will be $8.94 billion.

These 11 projects will have a storage capacity of 12.79 maf and would generate over 3362 mw power and irrigate 1.4 million hectares of land. Under the phase-111, Yugo Dam and Skardu Dams, Dhok and Rohtas, Naulang Dam and Khadji Dam will be completed.

These projects will store 35.8 maf and bring an additional area of 17,276 hectares under cultivation while the rest of irrigation supplies from these projects will go to the existing irrigation system of the Indus Basin.

Wapda has also undertaken feasibility studies of several other dams. Nevertheless, small dams as proposed in vision 2025 programme have their utility at the local level as they have limited storage capacity with relatively smaller life span due to their silting up.

Again the experts recommended that the construction of Yugo and Skurdu dams on the River Indus in the near future would create enormous logistic problems and as such these projects should be considered only as long-term projects.

Likewise, the feasibility study of Bhasha Dam may take about three years. By that time, half of the construction of Kalabagh Dam could be completed whose feasibility has already been completed much earlier by taking foreign loans of over $100 million.

There is also a likelihood that the feasibility of Bhasha Dam may indicate that the proposed dam site is not suitable due to its location in a highly seismic area. Its construction will also require demolishing of a good part of Karakarum highway which is very important for defence, trade and maintaining links with China.

The reconstruction of demolished Karakarum highway at an alternate site will be extremely difficult and expensive. Furthermore, the location of Bhasha dam is over 300 km away from Kalabagh site and in high mountain areas, Consequently its cost of construction and development and transmission of electricity will be very high. Again, if it is feasible its construction may take another 8-10 years and by that time water storage may further decline unless Kalabagh Dam is completed at the earliest.

On rivers like Indus only big dams/reservoirs are constructed. Efforts should be made to study the potential of other sites on Indus like Dasu, Buriji, Patan, Thakot, etc, for future supply of water and hydropower. Since the water of eastern tributaries of river Indus namely Beas, Sutlej and Ravi has already been conceded to India under the Indus Water Treaty of 1960.

Only 2.23 maf of water from these rivers is discharged into the Indus river system. India will soon divert this water for its newly constructed Bhakra Dam on Sutlej and two other dams on Beas and Ravi commissioning of these Indian dams will definitely not make this water available to the Indus river system.

Therefore, we should also study and further develop our storage potential in the Chenab, the Jhelum and north western tributaries of river Indus, namely Chitral, Swat, Kabul, Haro, Soan, etc.

According to experts, on average 35 maf is going waste into the Arabian Sea annually since the commissioning of the Tarbela Dam. The chairman Wapda while addressing journalists put this loss at 39.35 maf annually.

Thus there is urgent need of installing computerized telemetry system in dams, barrages, main canals, distributaries minors to compute inflow and outflow of water for developing well-planned future water strategies based on accurate data.

Again, it has been argued to allow 10 maf below Kotri barrage for preventing sea intrusion which is increasing soil salinity, water logging and adversely affecting the mangroves and fish production in the coastal belt of the Indus delta.

A feasibility may be undertaken to study the potential of construction of dyke in the sea along the coastal belt of the Indus delta for preventing sea intrusion and saving 10 maf water.

If a country like Holland situated below sea level can save water by building dykes along sea coast why can we not prevent sea intrusion and save our water which goes waste every year?

Another huge water resource is saline sea water- 1050 km long coast along the Arabian Sea. This water can be used after desalinization which is practised for the last over 50 years in 120 centres of the world for drinking, industrial and agricultural uses.

The desalination world capacity of 1.5 million cubic meter per day has increased to 20.3 cubic meter per day in mid-nineties which has increased further. A 6000 gallons per day solar desalination plant at Gwadar on Mekran Coast (Balochistan) is already commissioned and supplying drinking water.

Another 6000 gallons per day desalinization plant based on sea water has been fabricated for the Pakistan Navy establishment at Gwadar. These desalinization plants suggests the potential of extending this facility to other coastal areas as well .;

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