Mega Projects of Pakistan

Indus Basin Water Treaty 1960
At the time of partition of India and Pakistan, there arose a dispute on the use of water resources since all rivers flowing in to Pakistan originated from India. The accord signed in 1960 at Karachi, Pakistan gave water of Indus, Jhelum and Chenab to Pakistan, whereas Ravi and Beas (Sutlej in Pakistan) were to be used by India. The treaty was signed by Pakistani president Ayub Khan and Indian prime minister Nehru. Consequent to this agreed upon distribution, decision was taken to build to big water storages on the Indus (Tarbela Dam) and Jhelum (Mangla Dam) rivers. Thereafter, many small dams have also been added. In 90s, Ghazi Barotha project came up without constructing a water reservoir for generating electricity.

Highways and Motorways
Pakistan inherited a poor infrastructure of road network throughout the country. With the passage of time, the road network has been considerable been improved. The construction of first mega project in this sector was the Super Highway connecting Karachi and Hyderabad in the province of Sind. Much later, the marvel of road construction saw coming up of the Karakoram Highway (KKH) connecting Pakistan to China over some of the rugged mountains of the world along the gushing and roaring river Indus. Then came the era of Motorways in the 90s with the construction of M-2, connecting Lahore and Islamabad. This chain is now been extended to many other destinations and is still expanding. The recent addition is the Coastal Highway, connecting Karachi to the newly developed port of Gwadar along the Makran coast skirting the Arabian Sea.

Sea Ports
Since 1947, Pakistan has had only one sea port at Karachi, which has been under tremendous pressure to bear the burden of all export and import related activities. Karachi. Although Pakistan has a long stretch of coastline along the Arabian Sea from the Sir Creek in the east to Gwader in the west, no worthwhile effort had been put to increase the outlets to the sea. Port Bin Qasim, some 35 kilometres west of Karachi was the second outlet added mainly to import raw material for the only Steel Mills of the country. Later Pakistan Navy constructed and developed a new base for itself at Ormara. Now work is underway to develop a deep sea port at Gwader, just at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, which would go a long way in reducing shipping costs for all imports, specially crude oil from the Gulf states as well as providing a short cut to warm waters to CARs, Afghanistan and China in the north.

Future Requirement of Water and Construction of Big Dams
Presently, out of a total of 77 million acres of cultivable land in Pakistan, only only 44 million acres is under cultivation due to sacristy of water, which is to the magnitude of 9 MAF. Due to silting of Mangla and Tarbela Dams, water capacity is reducing @ 3.6 MAF and if this trend continues, there will be a shortfall of 25 MAF of water by 2020. Although the present government has undertaken a gigantic task of brick lining the small water courses from canals to farms, this would be able to save only 5 MAF of water, leaving a net shortfall of 15-20 MAF of water. Unless, 3-5 major dams are built by 2016, Pakistan will have left with no water to irrigate its lands. Therefore the cabinet has recently decided to build five major dams on the Indus and other rivers to save excess water running down the Indus into Arabian Sea.

The proposed dams on the Indus include Skardu, Bhasha, Akhori and Kalabagh dams. Out of these Kalabagh Dam has been much controversial, specially by the NWFP and Sind provinces. Therefore , for the time being the government has decided to go ahead with the construction of Bhasha and Munda Dams, both located in the NWFP.

Comparison – Skardu, Bhasha, Akhori and Kalabagh Dams
All mega dams planned on River Indus are equally important – however, Skardu Dam being far up in the north may prove to be expensive since the transmission losses from extended power lines will be more besides submerging of Skardu city.
Bhasha Dam will have a live storage capacity of 7.30 MAF and installed power generation capacity of 4500 megawatts. It will store only 50 MAF glacial water from the northern mountains. Estimated cost $ 6.5 billion.
Kalabagh Dam is planned to be constructed below Akhori (Talagang) with a live storage capacity of 6.1 MAF and installed capacity of maximum 3,600 megawatts at an estimated cost of 6.1 billion $. Unlike Bhasha, it will also have 90 MAF water inlet from Soan, Kabul, Chitral and Haro rivers and thus will be able to store the monsoon water from these additional rivers.

Akhori Dam near Talagang will be able to store 6 MAF while water available will be 14 MAF with an installed capacity of 600 megawatts.

Skardu Dam is presently under study and hence most of the data is only approximate. The water available will be 27 MAF.
Munda Dam is a prelude to the construction of Kalabagh Dam, basically designed to save Nowshera from flooding and to alleviate any misgivings the people of NWFP may have on the construction of Kalabagh Dam, which must be built to store all downstream rain/monsoon water which gets wasted away due to non availability of any water storage reservoir downstream Kalabagh.

Water Disputes with India
Since the Indus Basin Treaty, India has been violating it in one way or the other. The Baglihar Dam being the latest incursion on the water being made available to Pakistan from the Chenab river. As per the Treaty, India is not allowed to build storage or diversion of the river water. However, under the garb of only installing hdro-electricity generation capability, India has planned construction in such a way that the site can store the river water and can thus be controlled to her advantage. Presently, the World Bank is monitoring the issue and no decision has yet been taken.


Courtesy: PakistanPaedia

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