WHY DAMS, WHY NOW, & WHY ESPECIALLY IN PAKISTAN?
How we manage our rivers, and even larger reservoirs of fresh water, is likely to become one of the major technical and political concerns of the next few decades. It can be predicted beyond doubt that as the shortage of water and the absence of Dams and Reservoirs in the region are realized, the politics of water will assume more importance than the politics of oil. Two things can be done to overcome such problems, the first is to increase supplies and the other one is to use water more efficiently and technically.
The estimated 800,000 dams around the world, 47,450 are considered large (over 15 meters in height). Another 1,600 large dams are under construction worldwide as an industry whose annual turnover is estimated at $50 billion or more. Dams offer developmental and security benefits by providing irrigation, water supply, flood control and hydropower. Beside this economic growth is also brought about by the availability of water to all concerned. According to the definition of International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD), there are only 40 Dams and reservoirs in Pakistan despite a good Irrigation System. On the contrary, they're 22000 Dams in China, 4291 in India, 625 in Turkey and 765 in South Korea.
It is shocking information for the elites and political leadership of the country to know that Pakistan has built only 40 Dams and reservoirs in last fifty years where as there is an immense potential for building many Dams along North, South and West-East natural slopes in the country. Mean annual surface water available for Pakistan is 141 Million Acres Feet (MAF), while only 23.4. MAF is used for six months period. In other word, we are wasting our more than 50% water resources.
Our country is an agro-based economy but due to carelessness of political leadership and incompetence of our bureaucrats and technocrats, Pakistan is turning into environmental disaster day by day. Our so-called experts are only interested in financial gains with other perks and privileges. Poor education system has resulted into political and technological gap in the country. Our strategies should aim at motivating all concerned authorities to declare a transparent and reasonable vision for the future and convince the general public to build pressure on the government to develop strategies to combat water wastage and embank the importance of building new Dams and water reservoirs throughout the country.
We need to develop an approach for identifying all legitimate stakeholders in negotiating development choices and agreements. Some strategic priorities for water and energy resources development have been identified. They are gaining public acceptance but a comprehensive option assessment is needed to address the problems of building Dams. Sustaining rivers and livelihood, recognizing entitlements and sharing benefits, ensuring compliance and projecting rivers for peace awarding contracts and project security and awarding sub contracts for mega Projects, require more transparency and participation of stakeholders at all levels in the country.
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