Altaf Hamid Rao,
MIRPUR (AJK): As the comity of nations is all set to celebrate ‘World Water Day’ on March 22 to create awareness about conservation and prudent use of water, the Pakistan Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) has been expeditiously working on a number of projects to improve water situation in order to avert looming water crisis in the country, it was officially announced.
“For optimal utilization of water resources, WAPDA has devised a comprehensive strategy, through which various projects will be completed in a phased manner under short, medium and long term plans”, WAPDA authorities told this Correspondent on Thursday.
WAPDA plans to add two million acre feet (MAF) to water storage capacity up to 2025 in short term, another eight MAF up to 2030 in medium term and 28 MAF up to 2050 in long term with completion of its projects. The construction work on Mohmand Dam is about to start in couple of weeks, while construction of Diamer Basha Dam will also commence this year. According to the details, the water storage projects to be completed by 2025 under short term plan include Mohmand Dam, Nai Gaj Dam, Naulong Dam and Kurram Tangi Dam (Stage-I). Diamer Basha Dam, Kurram Tangi Dam (Sage-II), Chiniot Dam, Bara Dam and Hingol Dam are a few to be implemented by 2030 under medium term plan. Shyok Dam, Skardu Dam, Akhori Dam and Rohtas Dam are among the projects which are planned to be completed by 2050 under long term plan. Prompt decision making by all the stakeholders and timely availability of funds are key to implementing short, medium and long term projects in accordance with their timelines. It is pertinent to mention that water situation in Pakistan is alarming by any standards because of the varied reasons, hence, needs to be improved through effective water management and construction of dams. The per capita water availability in Pakistan has gone down from 5260 cubic meter in 1951 to an alarming level of 908 cubic meters per annum due to rapid growth in population and depleting water storage capacity of the reservoirs because of the natural phenomenon of sedimentation.
The per capita availability of water has pushed Pakistan to the stage of water-scarce country and if nothing is done, we will become a water starved country. Pakistan can store only 10 per cent of its annual river flows, whereas the average water storage capacity world over stands at 40 per cent. Instead of increasing our storage capacity, we have lost more than one-fourth of the storage capacity of our dams, which were completed 40 to 50 years ago. The live water storage capacity that was 16.26 MAF in 1976 has decreased to 13.68 MAF, which equals to a meager 30 days carry over capacity.