Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that 10 dams being constructed by the government will double the country’s storage capacity to irrigate more land and help reduce the impact of climate change.
The prime minister said this while addressing an international symposium regarding hydropower development on Monday.
The prime minister regretted the indifference of previous governments to the construction of big water reservoirs. He pointed out that China constructed five thousand dams whilst Pakistan only built two major dams back in the 60s. He said had the hydropower potential of the country been tapped, the country today would not have been faced with the issue of rising prices of electricity as well as inflation.
“Due to this negligence, Pakistan suffered losses. As Pakistan is using imported fuel for electricity generation, whenever petrol prices go up in the international market, electricity prices also rise in Pakistan and the burden increases on the public,” he further said.
The prime minister expressed satisfaction that his government whilst pursuing the forward-looking approach decided to construct 10 dams in a decade time. He said, “given increase in our population, we have to bring more land under cultivation in areas such as DI Khan, Balochistan and Thar, which can be done with the availability of water.” He added that Pakistan can become a wheat and cotton exporting country by irrigating more land.
As regards the proposal of Minister for Water Resources Moonis Elahi for construction of Kalabagh Dam, the prime minister acknowledged that Pakistan requires more water storage capacity and the site of Kalabagh is very appropriate for the dam.
He, however, said the people in Sindh have their reservations on this project and without convincing them, the work on this project cannot be started. He said, “Being the federation, we have to take along all the provinces.”
The use of tunnel technology for dams is necessary in Pakistan, he said, adding mountains of Pakistan are incomparable in the world and can help generate huge revenue from tourism. The mountainous area of Switzerland is half the size of the northern areas of Pakistan but it is generating revenue of $60-70 billion from tourism. Switzerland has the best tunnel technology which makes its mountainous areas very accessible, he continued.
He appreciated Chairman Wapda Lt General (retd) Muzammil Hussain for his dedication for the construction of water reservoirs.
Speaking on the occasion, President of International Commission on Large Dams Michael Rogers termed the construction of 10 dams by Pakistan as an amazing and world class endeavour. This, he said, is the road to prosperity and a better future of Pakistan.
Appreciating the capability of WAPDA to execute these projects, Michael Rogers specifically mentioned that Diamer Basha is a dam for generations. He assured Pakistan to provide with state of the art knowledge to support the construction of the dams.
Chairman WAPDA Muzammil Hussain, in his remarks, said the construction of dams is aimed at food security and human security. He said work on the dams is being carried out with speed and accuracy.