Malik M Aslam Awan
FOR agriculture, water is just like blood run
ning in veins of a human body. India has con
structed several dams on river courses which were once main source of irrigating Pakistan’s agricultural land. Indian cunning and shrewd mind wanted to devastate Pakistan’s agriculture zones, dependent on river water coming from within Indian soil. Ravi river water has been blocked by India by constructing dams on its way. Whenever there will be scarcity of water, Indian dams will store Ravi river water and if there is abundant of water India will let the course of Ravi flow towards Pakistan to inundate Pak soil. Sometimes, rain water is abundant and sometimes Nature is not too benevolent to shower rains. In rainy seasons preservation of water is possible through dams only. By constructing dams we cannot only save water but also can save our crops, cattle, human beings, being swept away by floods. The lndus River System Authority (IRSA) claimed that being devoid of proper water preservation system (Dams) Pakistan incur loss of about twenty one billion dollars per annum. Due to mismanagement and failure of water preservation system per annum 29 million acre feet water goes useless and falls into sea, while on the whole globe this ratio in average measurement is almost 8.6 acre feet. D
uring Senate policy forum session IRSA maintained that to preserve water we need three more dams equal to the magnitude of Mangla Dam. IRSA further maintained that due to sullage issue the water preservation capacity of existing dams is diminishing day by day. IMF, UNDP and other forums of the world claim that water issues of Pakistan are going to be worsened with every passing moment. If the situation still goes unattended, these forums say till 2040, Pakistan may become the country with least water resources of the world. At present Pakistan is at 4th number at the list of world’s most water user countries. Since long world forums are pointing out that in coming years Pakistan may have to face aggravating water shortage but unfortunately Policy makers never felt the graveness of the situation and failed to address the star issue of the time. Unfortunately Pakistan is facing scarcity of sages and intellectuals who have the capability and sincerity to realize the seriousness of the water issue, the hub of the Pak economy – being agriculture based country, whose 70% population is mainly and directly engaged in agriculture. Every sane person may realize what would happen if water resources fail to meet water necessities of the agriculture, shortage of edibles, wheat, paddy and vegetables connote devastating hunger and the country a barren land.
The then Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Saqib Nisar in June 2018 under a suo motu notice ordered the construction of Diamir-Bhasha Dam and established a Fund Account, public lavishly donated to the dam fund account. After taking over PM Imran Khan reiterated his stance to construct dams to replenish water resources for future and chaired the Water Council session, convened for the purpose of solving the gravest issue of Pakistan. After assuming power Imran Khan laid the foundation stone of Mohmand Dam, which would cost 2.2 billion dollars, on which work is in progress. On 13 May 2020, Diamir-Bhasha contract had been executed between Power China Company and FWO, which will cost Rs 442 billion. The project includes main Dam, diversion system, bridge and construction of electrical house. The project is expected to produce 4500 megawatt electricity. The project is expected to cost Rs.1406.5 billion and see completion in 2028. The Dam will have the capacity to irrigate three million acres of agri land. Diamir-Bhasha and Mohamand dams may contribute a lot to Pak economy but we need a lot of dams keeping in view our future water requirements.
Diamir-Bhasha Dam has been inaugurated thrice, first in 1998 by the then PM Nawaz Sharif, again in 2006 by General Musharraf and in 2011 by the then PM Gillani but due to incompetence and lack of sincerity it could not be realized. India has started the worst kind of water terrorism by dual policy, in rainy season unleashing the surplus water to inundate Pak territory and in drought days restraining even a single drop of water, having sinister motives to make Pakistan, God forbids, a barren land. To thwart Indian water terrorism and acquiesce in water management fanged issues we cannot afford to linger on the construction of dams for the fourth time. PM Imran Khan might have superb vision to mitigate the intensity of water terrorism of our perennial hostile neighbour and let our fertile land yield golden fruit, mango, paddy, wheat green grocery as well as sustain, maintain black gold to cater to the nutrition of the healthy nation. The nation will also heave a sigh of relief from sweeping, annihilating floods.
—The writer is a freelance columnist and independent analyst based in Lahore.
Malik M Aslam Awan