A National Life­line

Enterprise - - Editor’s desk -

In view of the ris­ing en­ergy cri­sis and to fur­ther boost the coun­try’s agri­cul­ture sec­tor, con­struc­tion of new large water reser­voirs is very much in line with national needs. It would be re­called that con­sid­er­able in­ter­est was gen­er­ated sev­eral years back about the pro­posed con­struc­tion of the Kal­abagh Dam which was op­posed with­out ex­plicit tech­ni­cal rea­sons in wake of a national de­bate. The re­quire­ment for water for ex­pan­sion of the coun­try’s vi­tally im­por­tant agri­cul­ture sec­tor can be gauged from the fact that while more than 70 mil­lion acres of land in the coun­try is cul­tivable, only 44.4 mil­lion acres – or much less in wake of the re­cent two ma­jor floods - is ac­tu­ally be­ing cul­ti­vated. The con­struc­tion of large and new water reser­voirs would help cul­ti­vate huge tracts of so far bar­ren land, thus greatly boost­ing agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion and adding to Pak­istan’s over­all need for water. It is, in fact, said that Pak­istan would need to build a new dam ev­ery 10 to 15 years for cul­ti­va­tion and power gen­er­a­tion pur­poses.

The coun­try has so far con­structed 49 small dams and plans to build eight more in Rawalpindi, Jhelum, At­tock and Chak­wal ar­eas in or­der to pro­mote agri­cul­ture in these re­gions. Con­struc­tion of the six small dams is ex­pected to be com­pleted dur­ing the cur­rent fi­nan­cial year which would help ir­ri­gate around 12,310 acres of agri­cul­tural land. The dams in­clude Dar­malak Dam (Ko­hat), Lawaghar and Karak Dam (Karak), Khair Bara Dam (Haripur), Jabba Khat­tak Dam (Now­shera) and Palai Dam (Charsadda).

It is also re­ported that 12 more dams would be con­structed in two phases in all the four prov­inces with stor­age ca­pac­ity of four MAF water. In the first phase Win­der and Nau­long dams will be con­structed in Balochis­tan, Kur­ram Tangi in Khy­ber-pakhtunkhwa, Dar­wat and Nai Gaj in Sindh and Ghabir Dam in Pun­jab. Re­cently Prime Min­is­ter, Yousuf Raza Gi­lani in­au­gu­rated con­struc­tion of the Di­amer Basha Dam and termed it a “life­line” for the coun­try. From its date of com­mence­ment, the dam will take at least eight years to con­struct and would pro­vide some 4,500 MW of power—which could go a long way in plug­ging a good part of the ex­ist­ing and fu­ture power short­fall in the coun­try. The 50-mile-long reser­voir might also be able to hold back enough water to pre­vent the kind of dev­as­tat­ing flood­ing seen in 2010.

It is un­for­tu­nate that while the fea­si­bil­ity study and en­gi­neer­ing de­sign of the Kal­abagh Dam has been com­pleted, ac­tual con­struc­tion work has been held up for noth­ing else but po­lit­i­cal rea­sons. Had work on Kal­abagh Dam started, the multi- di­men­sional project would have been com­pleted within six to seven years, which would be much less than the time it would take to build an­other dam of sim­i­lar di­men­sions. One ex­am­ple of how Kal­abagh would aug­ment the coun­try’s power gen­er­a­tion re­sources is that the pro­duc­tion power of Tar­bela Dam would in­crease by at least 30 per­cent – a big boon in these times when the na­tion is reel­ing un­der power short­ages

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