LAHORE: The Institute for Policy Reforms (IPR) has urged the government to complete the Diamer-Bhasha dam with urgency as the country’s water challenges are direr than the plight of the power sector.
The Lahore-based think tank stated that the scale and complexity of the project requires top level government leadership and suggests the government should enlist assistance from China for the project.
According to the report, the country’s agriculture production fell in fiscal year 2015-16 largely due to water constraints.
Pakistan is among the most water stressed countries in the world. With silting of dams and a growing population, this will only become worse. Available water was 138.6 MAF in 2014-15 and it fell to 133 MAF in 2015-16.
Actual flows to canals are 114 MAF that are depleting each year. Areas irrigated by canals have also been in long-term decline since the 1990s. Total gross storage capacity of less than 19 MAF is just 14% of available water resource and has not changed from 1980.
Additionally per capita dam capacity was 320 cubic meters in 1980, which has now dropped to 150 cubic meters.
The report further highlights absence of major dams, stating that “we have not built a single large dam since Tarbela”.
“Kalabagh has been in terminal debate and Diamer-Bhasha has been in a permanent state of work-in-progress, during this time net water storage has come down by 30%.”
Published in The Express Tribune, June 15th, 2016.