Tarbela Dam extension

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EARLY harvest projects under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project are swiftly coming to fruition that in fact has greatly helped address the country’s energy woes. On Saturday Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbassi inaugurated 1410 megawatt Tarbela 4th Extension hydropower project also completed under the mega corridor project. It is indeed another important milestone in terms of exploiting the immense hydropower potential and balancing energy mix of the country, thus providing cheap and affordable power to the consumers.
After years of neglect, it is a matter of satisfaction that hydro power projects are being given due attention and being completed well within in a given time frame and cost. Work on the fourth extension of Tarbela was started in February 2014 and in a matter of four years, the project stands completed. The project was originally intended for irrigation but was later taken up for power generation given country’s growing power demands. As much of the infrastructure for the project already existed, conversion of the irrigation tunnel into a hydroelectric tunnel was regarded as a cost-effective way to ease Pakistan’s energy shortfall. It will be unfair not to recognise the efforts put in by entire team under the supervision of incumbent WAPDA Chairman Lt Gen Muzammil Hussain (Retd) for completion of this project and other ongoing hydel projects. One particular example is that of Neelum Jhelum project that was started back in the era of former President Parvez Musharraf yet due to neglect, especially in the era of PPP, frequent timelines were given for its completion that also pushed up its cost of completion. It is however heartening to see that finally this vital project is also expected to start electricity generation by end of current month as reportedly water filling in head race tunnel has been started. The job for WAPDA is not finished yet and it has to tread a long road to ensure water security of the country. Given water aggression by India and on the receding water storage capacity of both Tarbela and Mangla dams, it has become imperative that the country immediately starts work on upstream reservoirs, which will not only enhance water storage capacity but also slow down the process of sediment loads in Tarbela. While government is in the process of finalising a water policy, the document must envisage proper timelines for completion of mega dams such as Diamer Basha as any further delay in its construction will have serious consequences for economy and agriculture of the country. As Diamer Basha like projects require mammoth funding, the government may approach friendly countries to get soft loans for their completion to ensure water security.