ISLAMABAD, June 14 (APP): Water Reservoirs and Survival of Pakistan
Institute for Policy Reforms (IPR) in its fact sheet on "water crisis" here on Tuesday stressed the need for building a larger dam in order to meet energy requirements and ensure water availability for agriculture sector for socio-economic development of the country.
It may be mentioned here that IPR is an independent and non- partisan think tank established under Section 42 of the Companies Ordinance.
The IPR mission is to work for stability and prosperity of Pakistan and global peace and security while its operations are supported by guarantees from the corporate sector.
According to its facts sheet, despite incentives by Government the total agriculture production fell by 0.19%.
The IPR said that many issues affect agriculture, these included seed quality and virus as well as input and offtake prices adding that equally, water availability in canals and its proper use were key concerns.
The research institution said that the water sector in Pakistan needs urgent reforms in policy and practice.
"Agriculture has a share of 21% in our GDP. About half the country's population earns its livelihood from agriculture while available water was 138.6 MAF in 2014-15. It fell to 133 MAF in 2015-16. Actual flows to canals is 114 MAF and reducing," it said.
The IPR added that area irrigated by canals has been in long- term decline since the 1990s while total gross storage capacity of under 19 MAF is just 14% of available water resource and has not changed from 1980.
"We have discussed, but not built a single large dam since Tarbela completed in 1974. Kalabagh has been in terminal debate. No dispute accompanies Diamer-Bhasha, but it has been a permanent work in progress. During this time, net water storage has come down by 30%. Pakistan is among the most water stressed countries in the world. With silting of dams and a growing population, this will only become worse, " the IPR facts sheet revealed.
"This is 35% to 40% of the total existing capacity," the IPR said.
About power generation of the dam , the IPR said that the project would provide 4,500 MW of hydro power generation capacity while the approved cost of the project was Rs. 834.2 billion or US $ 11 billion equivalent.
Land acquisition is another Rs. 101.3 billion. GoP has a separate project for transmission. Substantial project completion period is eight years though the total period is eleven years.
The Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC) had approved the project in 2009.
The IPR said, "Diamer-Bhasha is a feasible project though its real benefit lies through the enhanced water and national security.
This is critical for Pakistan. The reservoir, additionally, will increase power generation capacity of Dasu by about 25% and of Tarbela by an estimated 10 to 15%. It will also reduce silting of Tarbela. Our experience from Tarbela and Mangla dams show that actual benefits far exceed original estimates. World experience shows also that such projects especially benefit the poor."
The IPR further said that size and financial magnitudes were unprecedented for Pakistan which needs special execution arrangement. Even more so, it needs top level commitment.
The IPR said that there is need to provide sufficient and timely GoP and WAPDA funds, attract donor assistance for the project. We must show ownership and resolve to international agencies and ensure top level monitoring for effective execution of project.
Regarding the pre-construction activities, the IPR said that Pakistan has completed bulk of pre-construction work. Donors do not usually fund such activities.