How long, will we continue to bear the loss of our lives and properties?
How long will we continue to waste millions of cubic meters of water every year and throw it in the Arabian Sea without using it for our benefit but causing loss of life and property?
How long will these dangerous flood series continue like this?
Every year in the form of floods, water will continue to come in torrents and many lives will be washed away, including properties, houses, crops and infrastructure worth billions of rupees. Shall it continue to be washed away from us every year? This year too, we are facing a major flood as a result of above-normal rains and also because of India’s water aggression.
More than 75 years have passed and every year we had to see this dangerous and harmful flooding situation. Nature has blessed us with the Indus River system and many rivers flowing into it, including Swat, Kabul, Kuram, Gomal, Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Sutlej, Beas and other small and big rivers. But to date, we have not been able to build projects to store the annual runoff flowing in these rivers and use the stored water as per our needs for irrigation throughout the year and in addition also to provide us with very cheap electricity and protect us from floods.
All over the world developing and developed countries emphasize that whatever water is available in the form of rivers should be stored by constructing dams and used according to their needs. China has more than 80,000 dams and stands first in the world. The second place is the United States which has more than 75,000 dams. Our neighbouring country India has built more than 5700 dams and water storage projects. While Pakistan has built about 150 small and large dams and among them, there are only 3 or 4 big dams that can store really good amounts of water. The first of these dams is the Warsak Dam which was completed in 1960, on the Kabul River, located near Peshawar, which is providing water to the crops of a large area of KPK, two large canals have been diverted for irrigation. This dam is also generating 240 megawatts of electricity. More than 60 years have passed since it was built and now its water storage capacity has been reduced by 90%, the dam is almost filled with stones and sand and now it is being used as a run-of-river.
The second major water storage project Mangla Dam was built on the Jhelum River. This project was completed in 1967, its total water storage capacity was about 7.4 million acre-feet, and it also provides us with 1150 megawatts of low-priced electricity. Now its water storage capacity has reduced to 33% according to a UNDP report, and in the next few years, its capacity will be reduced to half.
The third major water storage project is Tarbela Dam, this project was completed in 1976, it was built near Swabi on the Indus River, and its total water storage capacity was about 11.1 million acre-feet. This project gives us 5000 megawatts of cheap Electricity. According to the UNDP report, its water storage capacity has also decreased by about 32% and will become 50% in the next few years.
After 1976, no major water storage projects were built in Pakistan, and even those that were built have either exhausted or greatly reduced their water storage capacity. That is why rains and floods occur every year creating disaster in Pakistan. According to the reports of WAPDA, after 1976, there were plans to construct big dams after the completion of the Tarbela Dam. Kala Bagh Dam was on the top of the list, which was supposed to be constructed in the ’80s but the work on it was stopped. Not only Kala Bagh Dam but work on all dam projects had been stopped. The major water storage projects were Kala Bagh Dam, Dia Mir Bhasha Dam, Dhasu Dam, Mohmand Dam, Kalam Dam, Akhori Dam etc. Had it been done, today we would have been able to store hundreds of acres feet of water and generate up to 60,000 megawatts of cheap electricity. Our country Pakistan would have been counted among the developed nations and our industry would have been counted among the successful industries of the world with high GDP.
But No! We are our own enemies. We have not made such plans that can make us count among the developed nations. We have to deal with floods and calamities every coming year, and we have to waste billions of rupees on it every year and sacrifice thousands of lives, but we will not build such projects that the abundance of water given by nature can be saved and use it for our needs by bringing it under control.
Our governments either do not think in this direction or it is not on their priority list. How long? How long will this last like this?
Now we should wake up, our governments should have to think in this direction. Big water storage projects should have to be built as soon as possible. The construction of such projects has to be started on a priority basis.
A little work has been done on it in the last few years. Dhaso Dam, being constructed in the Kohistan region on River Indus has a water storage capacity of about 1.15 million acre-feet and will also provide us with 4300 megawatts of electricity. Its construction started in 2017 and it will be completed in 2026.
The second major project is the Dia Mir Bhasha Dam, which is being constructed on the Indus River in the Dia Mir area of Gilgit-Baltistan. The construction of which has started recently. It has a water storage capacity of about 6.4 million acre-feet. And it will also provide us with 4800 megawatts of electricity.
The third major project is Mohmand Dam, which is being built at Mohmand on the Swat River. Its construction has also started recently, it will have a water storage capacity of about 1.3 million acre-feet and this project will also provide us with 800 megawatts of electricity.
In addition to these, some small projects are also under construction, but now our government has to pay special attention to this. The construction of big dams, which has already started, has to be accelerated so that they can be completed on time. And efforts will have to be intensified to start new projects also.
Some barrages have also been proposed on the Jhelum River and the Ravi River. Construction work will have to be started on these projects too so that whenever India releases water towards Pakistan, we can store it and use it for our own uses. We should not continue to suffer every year for life and financial losses from this water. The Dam projects will take Pakistan to the destination of a developed country. The present and future governments must have to pay special attention to these projects.