Wapda chief highlights water crisis

 
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LAHORE, Nov 17 (TNS): Wapda Chairman retired Lt-Gen Muzammil Hussain says that instead of increasing water storage capacity, we have lost more than one-fourth of the storage capacity of our dams.

“The live water storage capacity that was 16.26 million acre feet (MAF) in 1976 has decreased to 13.68 MAF, which equals to a meager 30 days carry over capacity, while India has carry over capacity of 170 days, Egypt 700 days and America 900 days,” he briefed a delegation of the National Security Workshop (National Defence University) on Friday.

The delegation, headed by Maj-Gen Muhammad Samrez Salik, visited the Wapda house where the chairman briefed them about the water scenario and development projects of Wapda in water and hydropower sectors.

About challenges and issues faced by Pakistan in the water sector, the chairman said that per capita water availability in the country has come down from 5,650 cubic meter in 1951 to an alarming level of 908 cubic meter per annum, pushing us to the stage of water-scarce 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,” he added.

He said a sustainable long-term plan was required to tackle the looming water crisis in Pakistan. Mechanism in vogue for implementing development projects in Pakistan will take us nowhere. Concept of paradigm shift is required to improve water situation and handle the monster of circular debt. “The carry over water storage capacity has to be increased from 30 days to 120 days. Likewise, the ratio of low-cost hydel electricity also needs to be drastically improved,” said the chairman.

About the construction of dams and hydropower projects, he said the authority plans to add two MAF to water storage capacity up to 2023 in short term, 18 MAF up to 2030 in medium term and another 23 MAF up to 2050 in long term.

“We have already added 2,487MW hydel electricity to the National Grid by completing Golen Gol, Neelum Jhelum, and Tarbela 4th Extension hydropower projects. We also plan to add 4,582 MW up to 2023 and another 16,180 MW up to 2030,” he said.