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.
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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 .