The Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) has announced that it plans to fill the Mangla Dam, whose capacity is being enhanced, up to its maximum level of 1,242 feet this year subject to availability of water. The standard operating procedure in this regard has already been approved by the Government of Pakistan.
The plan was revealed by Wapda Chairman Shakil Durrani during a briefing regarding the Mangla Dam Raising Project to Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) President Sardar Muhammad Yaqoob Khan and Prime Minister Chaudhry Abdul Majid. AJK Chief Secretary Shehzad Arbab, Wapda Secretary Muhammad Imtiaz Tajwar, Wapda General Manager (Projects) North Rashid Ali Khan Bangash and Mangla Dam Raising Project Director Ghulam Sarwar Memon were also present during the briefing here on Saturday.
In late March, water levels in the Tarbela and Mangla reservoirs had fallen to their dead level of 1,378 feet and 1,040 feet respectively because of reduced water inflow due to a prolonged cold spell that had prevented glaciers from melting. Projecting a critical water situation, the Indus River System Authority’s technical committee foresaw a 21% water shortage in the early Kharif season, advising farmers to delay crop planting to April 15.
Speaking on the occasion, the Wapda chairman said that the Mangla Dam Raising Project would cost about Rs97 billion and will significantly contribute towards the socio-economic development of the country. It will store an additional 2.9 million acre feet of water, besides generating 644 million additional units of electricity annually from the Mangla Power Station. Spillover benefits of the project have been estimated Rs18 billion per annum, he added.
The chairman said that people affected by the project had been recompensed through an unprecedented compensation and resettlement package. Out of the total project cost of Rs97 billion, a hefty amount of over Rs65 billion had been allocated for compensation and resettlement works. Resettlement works include the construction of New Mirpur City and four satellite towns – all equipped with modern civic amenities; the Mirpur by-pass; a bridge over New Bong Canal and the Dhan Gali Bridge across River Jhelum, among others.
Later, AJK Prime Minister Chaudhry Abdul Majid, accompanied by Wapda Member (Water) Syed Raghib Abbas Shah, inaugurated Islam Garh town – one of the four model towns developed for affectees of the project.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 27th, 2012.