News Desk |
Prime Minister Imran Khan performed the groundbreaking of Mohmand Dam in Mohmand District on Thursday. The Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and the former chief justice of Pakistan Justice (retd) Saqib Nisar were present at the occasion.
Mohmand Dam, which is being constructed on Swat River, will be completed at a cost of over Rs183 billion by 2024. In 2003, the cost of the project stood at $1 billion which has now swelled to $3 billion because of the inordinate delay during Musharraf regime.
Upon completion, the dam will generate 800-megawatt electricity besides bringing about 17,000 acres barren land under cultivation. The dam will also solve the problem of water scarcity in Mohmand District besides saving Peshawar, Charsadda and Nowshera districts from floods.
Until 2018, Mohmand was an agency of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) but with the merger of FATA with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, it has now became a district – Mohmand District – in Peshawar Division of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. It was created as an agency in 1951.
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The experts say that Mohmand Dam is the flood control dam and after its construction, it will be able to store 300,000 cusecs of water. They say the dam has gross capacity of 1.9 million acre-feet (MAF), live capacity of 0.67 MAF with power generation potential of 800 megawatts (MW) and annual energy production of 2862 GWh.
Why Building Dams Important for Pakistan?
More than 80 percent of water in Pakistan is considered unsafe. Meanwhile, in 2017, the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) announced that Pakistan would run out of water by 2025.
In June 2018, the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) in Pakistan had announced that water capacity of the Tarbela Dam, one of Pakistan’s most important dams, has fallen by 30 per cent.
WAPDA had informed the Senate that Pakistan’s ability to store water was decreasing while water consumption was increasing in the country. It had urging leaders to build more dams in Pakistan and since then, activists and concerned citizens in Pakistan have taken the issue to social media to ask if it’s time for Pakistan to build dams.
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According to WaterAid, the media reported, Pakistan is one of the 36 most water-stressed countries in the world, adding Pakistan is also in the top 10 of countries with the most people living without clean drinking water. Currently, 16 million people in Pakistan have no other option than collecting unsafe water for drinking and cleaning, leading to massive amounts of water-borne disease.
The available water per capita dropped from 5,600 to 903 cubic meters, as of 2016 and with the current levels of consumption, this number is expected to drop to 500 cubic meters per person in the coming years.
Pakistan, India Water Dispute
The water dispute between Pakistan and India began during the early 1960s. However, the Indus Treaty between the two countries created an understanding of how water of six rivers; the Chenab, Indus, Beas, Sutlej, Ravi and Jhelum, that flow to Pakistan from India between the two countries would be shared.
As per the division of the rivers, India had the Beas, Sutlej and Ravi and Pakistan had access to the Jhelum, Chenab, and Indus. During the 1990s, however, India constructed a hydro-electric plant in Doda district along Chenab River which was designated by the Indus Treaty for use by Pakistan.
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The Pakistani government, political and religious leaders saw this as a move by India to control these waters and an attempt in breach of the Indus Treaty.
Because of the move, Pakistani could face reduction of water capacity for Pakistani peoples and it could affect agricultural and animal rearing activities. Besides, India also had political superiority by having the ability to flood Pakistan during war times through releasing excess water. These and other reasons increased tension between both countries in attempts to control this water resource.