Country faces 5,000 MW shortfall

Low inflows from glaciers shut down 10 of Tarbela Dam’s power units.

April 23, 2011
Country faces 5,000 MW shortfall


The power shortfall across the country surged to 5,000 megwatts after 10 power production units of the Tarbela Dam, which has a cumulative production capacity of 3,478MW, stopped working because of abnormally low flow of water in River Indus.

According to a statement issued by the Indus River System Authority (Irsa), the dam’s water level is dropping at an alarming rate – 12,000 cusecs daily — and the outflow has been restricted at just 43,000 cusecs against a daily inflow of 29,700 cusecs.

“An abnormal drop in Indus River inflows has been caused by slow melting of glaciers, the main source of water for Pakistan,” said an Irsa statement.

On the whole, total electricity generation in the country remained at 10,487 MW with 3,194 MW produced by hydroelectric units, including Tarbela and Mangla dams.

According to the Punjab Irrigation Department, it is getting 70,000 cusecs, while Sindh is being provided 45,000 cusecs of water on a daily basis.

The situation is expected to deteriorate significantly over the next 10 days.

The country’s total storage capacity is less than 1 million acre-feet (MAF), of which Tarbela has just 150,000 acre-feet of water available for discharge. The dam’s current water level is just 10 feet above its dead level of 1,378 feet at 1,388 feet.

Mangla Dam and other barrages and reservoirs hold only 0.6 MAF and 0.5 MAF, respectively.

While thermal power production has increased over the last several years, a substantial portion of the country’s power production remains dependent upon hydroelectric power generation units. India, which received normal river flows this year, has offered to sell power to Pakistan for the coming year.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 23rd, 2011.


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