'Sustainable long-term plan vital to thwart water crisis'

Chairman briefs delegation of Quetta college about development projects in water, hydropower sectors

APP April 02, 2019
Chairman briefs delegation of Quetta college about development projects in water, hydropower sectors. PHOTO: FILE

LAHORE: Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) Chairman Lt-Gen (retd) Muzammil Hussain on Monday said a sustainable long-term plan was needed to thwart the looming water crisis and improve the ratio of low-cost hydel electricity in Pakistan.

He expressed these views while briefing a delegation of Command and Staff College Quetta at the Wapda House.

During the visit, the delegation was briefed about the water scenario and development projects in water and hydropower sectors.

The Wapda chairman said, "A major paradigm shift to the existing development mechanism in Pakistan is direly needed to improve the water situation and handle the monster of circular debt.

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“There has to be a home-grown engineering expertise coupled with innovative financial models with less dependence on the government and efficient yet swift planning and approval processes for implementation of the project. The carryover water storage capacity has to be increased from 30 to 120 days. Likewise, the ratio of low-cost hydel electricity also requires to be drastically improved."

Highlighting the challenges and issues faced by Pakistan in water sector, Hussain told the delegation that per capita water availability in the country had come down from 5,260 cubic metres in 1951 to an alarming level of 908 cubic metres per annum, pushing us to the stage of water-scarce country.

“Pakistan can store only 10 per cent of its annual river flows against the world average of 40 per cent. Ironically, instead of increasing water storage capacity, Pakistan has lost about one-fourth storage of the dams,” he said. “The live water storage capacity that used to be 16.26 million-acre feet (MAF) in 1976 has reduced to 13.68 MAF, which equals to only 30 days carryover capacity. India has carry over capacity of 170 days, Egypt 700 days and America 900 days.”

Dilating upon the vision for construction of dams and hydropower projects, the chairman shared with the delegation that Wapda planned to add two MAF to water storage capacity and 828 megawatts (MW) hydropower generation capacity up to 2025 in short term, another eight MAF water storage and 5,653MW power generation up to 2030 in medium term and 28 MAF water storage and 6,245MW generation capacity up to 2050 in the long term with completion of its various projects.

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Contract for Mohmand Dam Hydropower Project has been awarded and construction work on the project is about to start, while work on Diamer Bhasha Dam will also commence this year.

The delegation was also briefed about the impact of climate change on water resources, water management challenges, water conservation and hydropower potential of the country.

The Wapda chairman also responded to the queries raised by the delegation during question-answer session.

Later, Command and Staff College delegation head and the Wapda chairman exchanged souvenirs.