Alarming situation: ‘No large dams built in 40 years’

Pakistan declared ‘red zone’ in index of per capita water availability

Shamsul Islam November 04, 2016
Sikander Hayat addressing the seminar. PHOTO: APP

FAISALABAD: The rulers have failed to build a big dam during the last 40 years which is causing a huge loss to the national economy and is the major hurdle in the progress and prosperity of the country.

Agricultural and water experts said this while addressing a seminar on ‘Pakistan Water Resources’ on Friday. The event was held at New Senate Hall, University of Agriculture Faisalabad, as part of the Rabi Festival.

They said 30 million acre feet (MAF) of water was being wasted into the sea causing loss worth billions of rupees.

While chairing the session, Federal Minister for National Food Security Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan expressed concern over the alarming situation of water availability in the country and said, “In the index of per capita water availability, Pakistan had been declared as a red zone.”

He claimed the government was taking efforts to address water issues. He said dams were being constructed to meet the demand of increasing population amid the threat of decreasing water reservoirs.

He maintained, “Construction of Kalabagh Dam is a way forward to fight the challenges of water scarcity that could not be materialised due to political interferrence.”

Sikandar Hayat said heavy investment was being made in agriculture sector, while water efficient irrigation technologies were needed to address the concerns of the farming community.

On the occasion, Indus River System Authority member Rao Irshad Ali Khan stressed upon the need to develop dams. He said electricity produced from hydel costs Rs2.62, gas Rs7.43, coal Rs12.91, furnace oil Rs17 and wind electricity costs Rs11.62.

He said due to sedimentation of reservoirs, Tarbela Dam’s capacity had declined by 35% as it was designed for 9.6 MAF and now it could hold 6.33 MAF.

He further said Mangla Dam storage capacity also reduced by 16%, while Chashma Dam storage had squeezed by 61%.

University of Agriculture Faisalabad Vice-Chancellor Pro Dr Iqrar Ahmad Khan said earlier, the water per capita availability was 5,650 MAF but with the passage of time it reduced to 991 MAF, ringing the alarm bells for water scarcity.

Turkish team to help construct dams

A three-member Turkish delegation assured the local industrialists and traders that it could help Pakistan in construction of dams, waste water treatment, renewable energy and other environment related issues.

The assurance was given by the delegation during a visit to the Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The delegation comprised of Senior Business Development Manager Ozlem ODA Tekir, Durn Bos and Ezlam Azlas from Istanbul, Turkey.

Ozlem said, “We are providing consultancy in addition to offering permanent, modern and scientific solutions by integrating knowledge and experience of leading experts in the specific field.”

She said, “Our team has expertise in preparing master plan studies, project management and investment and operational consultancy.”

On the occasion, FCCI President Muhammad Saeed Sheikh said that Faisalabad is dominated by small and medium textile processing units.

He pointed out, “Major export oriented industries have their own arrangement to treat water effluent but small and medium units have no available solution because of their financial constraints.”

He said for such units, combined water treatment plant was the only option and in this connection WASA had already conducted study to setup combined water treatment plants.

He asked the Turkish delegates to provide them details of projects already completed by them along with their cost, technical details and running expenditures etc.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 5th, 2016.


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