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30 years of WAPDA.


On 14th August, 1947 independence was earned, the spiritual rapture was gained and self-esteem through self-rule achieved. Pakistan came into being as a free nation, and alongwith it came a spate of harships - physical, material and social. The Government of Pakistan, alive to the fact that existing civil departments could not deliver the goods because of their unprofessional working and red-taped procedures, addressed itself seriously to the task of getting together men to do the job of developing country's water and power resources, as urgently as the time required. They were looking forward to integrated development plans in this field, and an organisation to see them through execution to ensure maximum with minimum resources. The result was establishment of Water and Power Development Authority, to be known as WAPDA in coming years. The organisation was set up in February 1958 by an ordinance to take up Water Development on a unified manner, transfering the existing electricity departments to it through an amendment in March 1959. The charter of duties assigned to this newly created organisation reads:-

"Investigations, planning and execution of schemes in the fields of:-

* Generation, transmission and distribution of power

* Irrigation, water supply and drainage

* Prevention of waterlogging and reclamation of waterlogged and saline land

* Flood control, and

* Inland navigation."

The organisation to carry out these chartered duties, Wapda was modestly staffed in the beginning to feel through what it had to do, and how. In precisely three decades it has grown into a gigantic 160,000 strong work-force present and working everywhere in the country. The organisation is run by an Authority composed of a Chairman and three Members to head Water, Power and Finance Wings. Under the Members of the Authority are a host of engineers, economists, technicians,


accountants, administrators and helpers to make the machine moving unceasingly.

The organisation works out its Annual Programme in water and power fields drawing funds from loans and grants from federal and provincial governments and foreign aids and loans (major contributors being World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), German Development Bank (KFW), friendly mid-east, and other donor agencies and countries).

Projects in the water sector are completed by Wapda and handed over to related departments of provincial governments, except those which require extra skill and specialised maintenance and multipurpose operations. The power projects, on the other hand, are built, operated and maintained by Wapda. Wapda pays off its debts through sale proceeds of electricity it has produced. It also self-finances its new projects to the required extent of 40 per cent of total cost, as required by the international funding agencies like World Bank.


Generally the name 'Wapda' has become a symbol of electricity supply only, whereas very few know and appreciate that the organisation has done tremendous work in the water sector to provide national economy, predominantly agricultural, with a suitably broad base for future development of a dependable structure. The days of irrigation crisis of the early years of Pakistan's existence and emergence of salinity as the most formidable threat to country's economic existence are still fresh in many memory. So is the role of Wapda which extracted the nation from the impending gloom. Wapda's contribution towards immense boost in industry and uplift of the society through widely lauded work in power sector is of great significance. A look at the table-1 would show in a glance what Wapda has done in the 30 years since its inception.

Surface Water Development

Pakistan is fortunate to have some extensive surface water resources in the shape of rivers, streams and hill torrents with enormous glaciers in the north to supplement them. But most of precious water flowing through these courses flows down to the Arabian Sea without fruitful utilisation. Wapda has so far planned and completed a number of projects to conserve and channelise water for irrigation purposes (Table-2). Completion of Indus Basin Project in record time of 10 years is regarded as a unique achievement in civil engineering all over the world.

Indus Basin Project

A few months after Pakistan's creation.

India unilaterally closed the irrigation canals flowing through Pakistan, cashing on her advantage of being in control of headworks. Pakistan's predominantly agricultural economy would have received a crushing blow if things had not been negotiated at international level to conclude Indus Basin Treaty with India under aegis of World Bank. The treaty provided for apportionment of three eastern rivers, Sutlej, Beas and Ravi, to India and water flowing in three western rivers, Chenab, Jhelum and Indus, to Pakistan. The Treaty went on to undertake construction of a water replacement arrangement for the canal system which used to be fed from three eastern rivers-Indus Basic Project. This system consists of two large storage multipurpose dams, five diversion barrages, one gated syphon and eight inter-river link canals to supplement the flow of eastern rivers with stored and released water of western rivers. All the project components, except Tarbela, were completed by Wapda in a record period of ten years (details in Table-3).

Chashma Right Bank Canal Project:

The scheme envisages construction



of 179 mile long canal off-taking from Chashma Barrage on river Indus. It is an inter-provincial project and on completion will provide irrigation facilities to 350,000 acres in Dera Ismail Khan district of NWFP and 220,000 acres in Dera Ghazi Khan District of Punjab. The project is to be constructed in three stages, first stage comprising 52 mile land construction having been completed and remaining two due for completion in 1991.

Command Area Development Project,

Drainage Component CRBC Stage-1:

In order to achieve the desired objective of reclaiming present waterlogged area and preventing further deterioration on commissioning of CRBC Stage-I, the proposed drainage scheme envisages a network of interceptor drains and subsurface tile drains in the entire area of Stage-I to control seepage and re-utilize seepage water for irrigation purposes. The scheme scheduled to complete in December 1990 also includes remodelling of existing surface drains.

Kalabagh Dam:

Kalabagh Dam is a multipurpose project to be built across the river Indus. Basically, it is a power project which aims at accelerating the tempo of economic development in Pakistan. Its important functions will include the following:[underscore]

(a) To generate 3600 MW of cheap hdro-electric power.

(b) To augment the live storage capacities of Mangla and Tarbela reservoirs which are being gradually depleted due to mentation.

(c) To provide additional storage on river Indus for better system control and management for the assured, adequate and timely irrigation releases for crops.

(d) To regulate and control the flood peaks of the Indus.

(e) To increase substantially Pakistan's capacity to manage its water distribution and power generation system through conjunct use of the Tarbela and Kalabagh reservoirs.

Groundwater Development:

Waterlogging and salinity has posed a very serious problem for our agriculture. The responsibility for tackling this problem was taken over by Wapda in 1958 in terms of its charter.

Magnitude of the Problem

The problems of waterlogging and salinity have been besetting our lands ever since the large network of canals was spread over the virgin lands. Over the years, larger and larger areas were brought under canal irrigation which became the mainstay of our agricultural economy. For economic and other obvious reasons, it was not possible to appreciate in the 19th century that Irrigation and Drainage were inseparable. This is now regarded as an axiom by all Irrigation Engineers. In the absence of adequate drainage measures, the underground water-table gradually rose because of seepage from unlined canals, watercourses and the conventional irrigation methods, as a result of which the problems of waterlogging and salinity soon developed and started to affect agricultural lands at an accelerated pace. Water-table rose at places by as much as 80 to 90 feet and with the rising water-table the lands at places also became saline. This phenomenon has been experienced all over the world where irrigation was developed without adequate drainage measures.

At the time when Wapda was created, waterlogging and salinity had become so acute that it was regarded as the "Enemy Number One". It was estimated by some experts that we were losing land at the rate of 100,000 acres of cultivable land every year. Presently only 5.3 million acres or 13 per cent of total irrigated area remains seriously waterlogged and the results of most recent surveys bring out that the extent of soil salinity has gone down from about 40 per cent to 28 per cent. On the average about 200,000 acres of affected land has now been coming back into full production every year, thanks to 36 SCARPS having been completed by Wapda over past 30 years.

It is estimated that an area of about 16.9 million acres in Punjab was underlain by fresh groundwater which can be used directly for irrigation purposes and 3.3 acres have groundwater that can be used for irrigation after mixing it with surface water. The potential of groundwater is comparatively less extensive in the province of Sind and an area of 2.3 million acres is estimated to be underlain by fresh groundwater.

Regional Scarp Plans:

Wapda formulated two regional plans, one for the Upper Indus Plain covering the province of Punjab and Bahawalpur and the other for the Lower Indus Plain covering the province of Sindh, on the basis of the results of the investigations completed earlier.

These plans, apart from suggesting measures for the control of waterlogging and salinity, deal with the optimum development of fresh groundwater resources for intensified and sustained irrigated agriculture within the existing irrigation system. According to the Regional Plan for the Upper Indus Plans, where the subsurface conditions are generally favourable tubewells will be constructed for irrigation and drainage. Similarly in the Lower Indus Plains where there is a suitable aquifer and the groundwater is of suitable quality, tubewells will be constructed to provide drainage and additional irrigation supplies. Where there is a suitable aquifer but the groundwater is too saline to be used for irrigation, tubewells still provide the most economical means of drainage to eliminate waterlogging. To dispose of the tubewell effluent, a system of surface drains will also be required in the saline groundwater area. Where there is no suitable aquifer for tubewells, tile drains will be provided. In the non-perennial, predominantly rice growing cultivations, priority has been given to the areas with fresh groundwater, since increased irrigation supplies from tubewells can bring about an early increase in agricultural production.

Four-year Reclamation Plan

The ongoing Accelerated Plan for waterlogging and salinity has been revised by incorporating new policies and strategies for solving the problem of the twin menace, renaming it as Four-Year Reclamation Plan for 1986-90 with a total financial outlay of Rs. 15 billion. The strategy for tackling Reclamation Projects during the Four-Year Reclamation Plan will consist of a dynamic and pragmatic approach for solving the problem of waterlogging and salinity.

Perspective Planning

Wapda's Master Planning Cell prepared a Revised Action Programme in 1974 for the development of the irrigated agriculture upto 1990 and thereafter a Perspective Master Plan upto 2000. This organization was afterward converted to Perspective Planning. The Perspective Planning is a key to the effective development and management of water resources of the country which plays an important role in the economic growth of the country. Planning is a continuous process required for constant revision of long-term plans in the light of which regional plans are finalised for

Table No. - 4

Changing Pattern of Electricity Consumption
 Consumption in
 (% of total electricity generated)
Section 1959-60 1971-72 1977-78 1988-89
Industry 65 51 40 35
Agriculture 10 24 26 20
Domestic 13 9 16 31
Commercial & others 12 16 18 14

short term gains. Today Wapda has identified a number of projects both on the water and power sides, which can be taken up immediately, once a governmental

decision is taken to construct them and accordingly funds allocated


If electricity consumption could be an indicator of affluenc - and it is indeed! Pakistan was one of the most deprived countries in the world in 1947 -- just 60 MW of power generation, 142 million units in terms of kilowat hour per annum, for a population of 31.5 million, apportioning only 4.5 units per year to each of them and very few out of 43 thousand villages electrified, denying the comfort of electricity to 99 per cent of people living in the villages.

Things crawled painstakingly to increase power generation to 119 MW in 1959 when the entire power production, transmission and distribution set up was transferred from electricity department to Wapda. Results did not take long to prove that the decision to create Wapda for quickening the pace of power development was well taken. In five years, by 1964, electricity generation capacity increased to 636 MW from 119 MW in 1959, unit-wise generation increased to 2500 MKWH from 781, number of consumers rose from 278 thousand to 688 thousand and number of electrified villages went up to 1882 in 1964 from 609 in 1959.

Having gained the initial momentum the wheel of development picked up speed in ensuing years to raise generation capacity to 1331 MW IN 1970, 3000 MW in 1980 and 5977 MW at the end of year 1988-89. Today about 30 thousand villages have been electrified out of over 43 thousand villages in Pakistan, and power supply established to over 6 million consuming points which include over 153 thousand industries and 140 thousand tubewells operating on Wapda's electricity, and more than 6 million homes glowing.

Changing Pattern of Consumption

When compared with the past, the results achieved are almost incredible. But, as it happened, the demand for electricity rocketed during past decade, because of industrialisation, mechanised farming and, above all, a sudden change in living pattern of the people. An average home which comfortably lived with a few bulbs and a couple of fans in 1960 is today loaded with electrical gadgets unimaginable around middle of this century. The patterns of electricity consumption has changed to the extent exhibited in Table No. 4.

From the changing percentages of total available electricity consumption by various sectors it is evident that the domestic sector has registered a sharp increase in consumption of electricity during past 17 years, from 9 per cent to 31 per cent, visibly at the cost of industrial consumption. Rapidly increasing electricity consumption, particularly in the non-productive domestic sector, has placed demand in front of supply creating obvious shortage, and further pressurized already constrained economic and material resources of the country.


As mentioned earlier, the power generation capacity, when Wapda was created in 1959, stood at inadequate 119 MW. It has now gone upto 5977 MW contributed by 12 hydel and 12 thermal power stations (Table-5 and 6). In view of further rising demand for electricity more power generating units are in the process of building as detailed in table-7. Plans have been worked out to outpace demand as soon as possible in order to minimise and finally eliminate power shortage and load-shedding.




Projected Power Demand on

WAPDA's System
 Power Demand
 (Actual) 5,440 28,898
 1989-90 6,065 32,409
 1990-91 6,660 35,588
 1991-92 7,312 39,072
 1992-93 8,029 42,904
 1993-94 8,784 46,938
 1994-95 9,609 51,347
 1995-96 10,513 56,177
 1996-97 11,501 61,457
 1997-98 12,582 67,233
 1998-99 13,652 72,951
1999-2000 14,812 79,149
2000-2001 16,071 85,877
2001-2002 17,437 93,176
2002-2003 18,919 101,096
2003-2004 20,338 108,678
2004-2005 21,863 116,827
2005-2006 23,503 125,591
2006-2007 25,266 135,011
2007-2008 27,161 145,138
2008-2009 29,062 155,296
2009-2010 31,096 166,165


Wapda has been progressively augmenting the power transmission capacity with installation of generating capacity, so that electricity could be conveyed to remotest parts of the country. In 1959 total length of transmission lines was around 7,000 Km and 59 grid stations represented 2810 MVA capacity, which has now gone upto 218,460 Km and 18,330 MVA respectively. Tables 10 and 11 give detail of progress achieved in this field. Several new transmission and grid projects of the capacity ranging between 66KV and 500KV are in the process of construction to match the increasing generation capacity in coming years.


Table- 9

Energy Generation in WAPDA's Power System
 Hydel Thermal
 Generation % of Generation % of Total
Year (MKWHs) Total (MKWHs) Total (MKWHs)
1959-60 507 65 274 35 781
1960-61 645 65 342 35 987
1964-65 1,362 55 1,101 45 2,463
1969-70 2,915 57 2,159 43 5,074
1970-71 3,449 60 2,291 40 5,740
1974-75 4,359 54 3,682 46 8,041
1975-76 5,436 66 2,840 34 8,276
1976-77 5,183 59 3,553 41 8,736
1977-78 7,466 74 2,608 26 10,074
1978-79 8,359 79 2,250 21 10,609
1979-80 8,717 72 3,390 28 12,106
1980-81 9,046 68 4,160 32 13,206
1981-82 9,525 65 5,243 35 14,768
1982-83 11,366 69 5,120 31 16,486
1983-84 12,822 71 5,193 29 18,015
1984-85 12,245 68 5,858 32 18,103
1985-86 13,804 67 6,780 33 20,584
1986-87 15,251 65 8,379 35 23,630
1987-88 16,689 61 10,762 39 27,45
1988-89 16,974 59 11,924 41 28,898


Table -11

Secondary and Primary

Grid Stations
 Grid MVA
Secondary Stations Capacity
132 KV 294
 66 KV 230
 33 KV 7
220 KV 13
500 6
Total 550 18,330

Wapda's Contribution Towards

National's Development

It is an acknowledged fact that contribution made by Wapda in the socio-economic development of the country in past thirty one years is unmatched by any other development agency in the country. Government agencies executing the development of water and power schemes prior to Wapda's creation in 1958 were found wanting in many ways in carrying out the assigned development works. Compared to this depressing scene of the fifties, Wapda has accomplished more tasks than assigned to it, as part of its development programme in almost every sphere of its activities. The organisation has fully justified the confidence nation had reposed in it. Following columns contain a resume of the contribution made by Wapda, directly and indirectly, towards the cause of socio-economic well-being of the people of Pakistan.



Village Electrification
 NWFP & Baloch- Total Pro-
Year Punjab FATA Sindh istan Total gressive
1959-60 167 102 -- -- 269 878
1970-71 21 52 1 84 2,537
1977-78 850 342 371 43 1,606 7,617
1978-79 856 348 259 53 1,246 18,863
1979-80 651 329 271 55 1,306 10,169
1980-81 550 344 247 40 1,181 11,350
1981-82 925 415 297 64 1,701 13,051
1982-83 1,399 445 303 41 2,188 15,239
1983-84 1,355 380 408 182 2,325 17,564
1984-85 681 517 280 227 1,705 19,269
1985-86 1,170 608 518 281 2,577 21,846
1986-87 1,536 812 745 312 3,405 25,251
1987-88 896 624 740 176 2,440 27,691
1988-89 1,090 577 593 41 2,301 29,992

Master Planning:

Wapda has prepared a Master Plan upto the year 2010 for development of water and power resources of the country identifying projects which can be taken up in the next 15 years. Allocation of funds would launch any project for speedy completion.


Over 160,-000 men in Wapda include more than 6,000 engineers, over 1,000 commerce graduates, thousands sands of technicians, operators, administrators, trainers doctors etc., and specialists in many other fields. In fact, the biggest strength of Wapda today is the vast reservoir of human resources at its disposal, all of whom are dedicated to their task with the single goal of achieving national development targets.

Besides direct employment, millions of others are indirectly employed in factories manufacturing machinery and equipment for exclusive used by Wapda, civil works contractors carrying out construction activities for Wapda, in all parts of the country, thousands of commercial firms doing business with Wapda, banks collecting bills of power consumption for Wapda and several other organizations in trade primarily because of Wapda's activities.

Employee's Welfare Activities

To keep the employees satisfied in their jobs and to provide them job security Wapda engages itself in a number of employees' welfare activities. All jobs are now pensionable besides carrying provident fund facilities. The employment in Wapda is governed by properly executed service rules to provide security to every employee. Other welfare activities for employees include transportation facilities from residence to some offices in many projects/locations in the country, Wapda owned housing facilities wherever possible to save the employees from payment of high rent of private houses. Wapda-run schools for proper education of employees' children by the trained and qualified staff, Wapda housing societies for employees on no-profit no-loss basis thus providing cheaper land for construction of houses, well equipped hospitals and liberal medical facilities policy, opportunities for training at all levels in the country and abroad for improving employees skills and assuring them better chances of promotion and progression.


Wapda, since July 1988, has been taken out of the Annual Development Programme (ADP), it is no more a burden to the Federal Government's development programmes. It raises its own funds either through sale of electricity and foreign assistance, or sale of Bonds, as was done in 1988 when against a target subscription of first issue Rs. 2 billion, Wapda got Rs. 3.11 billion from the public as subscription. The Wapda Bonds second issue floated in 1989 was also over-subscribed to the tune of nearly 5.6 billion against the target of Rs. 5 billion.

Contribution to

National Exchequer

Wapda contributes significant amount to Government exchequer by paying 11 per cent interest charges on financial loans and assistance received from friendly countries. In many cases this money is received as a grant by the Federal Government or as a soft loan with a low interest rate as well as some grace period. However, the benefit of the difference between payment of 11 per cent interest and actual terms of the loan/grant goes to the Federal Government.

Revenue From Duty

Wapda imports a lot of machinery and equipment for its projects for which it is charged same rate of duty by the Government as any other commercial or private organization. It is estimated that a sum of over Rs. 3.5 billion is paid to the national exchequer annually by Wapda as duty.

Transfer of


Wapda has helped the country in obtaining transfer technology in a number of specialised fields. For instance at the time of construction of the Tarbela and Mangla dams not even five per cent of the work was done by Pakistan engineers. But for the designing of Kalabagh dam, 85 per cent of the work was carried out by Pakistan engineers signalling transfer of technology in the specialized field of big dam building. Wapda engineers are considered world leaders in the field of reclamation of saline land. Many countries seek advice from Wapda engineers are learn from their experience in tackling the twin menace. In the middle eastern countries more than fifty per cent of the staff running the thermal power stations got their training from Wapda. They arell remitting precious foreign exchange to the country now.

Local Purchases

Wapda purchases locally large quantities of electrical equipment running into billions of rupees per annum, such as transformers, switchgers, cables, meters, defittings etc. All these purchases have given a big boost to the industrial manufacturing, particularly the electrical equipment industries, in Pakistan. As a matter of fact, many industries exist only because of purchases made from them by Wapda. During the past five years these purchases have been of more than Rs. 10 billion.

Industrial Production

The industrial production in the country has been growing at a rate between 8-10 per cent per annum during the past decade mainly due to availability of new industrial connections by Wapda at the rate of over 6,000 per annum. Today over 153,000 industries are connected to Wapda's power system all engaged in production of goods both for markets in Pakistan and abroad.

Agriculture and

Food Self Sufficiency

Pakistan has now achieved self sufficiency in food grain production and is also cultivating bumper cash crops. This is mainly due to timely releases of water from Wapda operated reservoirs like Mangla, Tarbela and Chashma, particularly in the dry winter months, and by pumping out over 12 million acre feet of water through 150,000 agricultural tubewells which receive electricity from Wapda's power system. Since last two years Wapda is charging a fixed flat rate for power consumption on most of the agricultural tubewells. The fixed charges have proved to be an incentive for pumping of more water by farmers and brining more land under cultivation for additional agricultural production.


Wapda has made a major contribution in reducing flash floods in major rivers. This has been made possible through struction of two big dams, Tarbela and Mangla. These dams withhold water when received as a result of flash floods and the population downstream is not affected as it used to happen before. The stored flood water is then released on the basis of modern computerized studies keeping in view the needs of the crops so that not a drop of precious water is wasted.

Salinity and Waterlogging

Wapda has reserved the trend of twin mence of salinity and waterlogging by completing 36 SCARPs. When Wapda came into being, country was losing one acre of land every five minutes. On the contrary, today Wapda is reclaiming two acres of land every five minutes. So far over 18 million acres have been reclaimed through completed and semi completed/on-going Scarps and are now back in full cultivation with even higher crop intensity.

National Grid

Wapda has erected and put into operation a national grid which connects all the power stations from Peshawar to Jamshoro, outside KESC sphere of operation. This is one of the biggest national grids in the world which is operated entirely by Pakistani engineers. Major portion of this systems has been constructed by Pakistani workmen. There is a universal feeling that the biggest uniting force amongst the four provinces of Pakistan today is the National Grid which makes power available to all parts of the country uniformly all the time.

Social Uplift

Wapda has contributed significantly in raising the standard of living of the people in recent years by giving new power connections to consumers in various categories particularly to residences both in urban and rural areas. In the last decade, over six million homes have received power connections from Wapda bringing in an era of the use of modern electrical appliances such as T.V. refrigerators, fans etc., in majority of households. Nearly 30,000 villages have been electrified which has changed the face of country's rural scene.

Drinking Water

Wapda has made available drinking water to millions of Pakistanis. With the construction of Hub Dam, 104 million gallons of water has been made available to Karachi and adjoining areas. Similarly, the construction of Rawal Dam has made 14 million gallons of water daily available to the residents of Federal Capital Islamabad and Rawalpindi. Khanpur Dam has also facilitated supply of 131 million gallons of water daily to the twin cities and Pakistan Ordnance Factory (POF) and industries around Taxila.

Over 500 deep tubewells drilled by Wapda in Balochistan which used to experience acute water scarcity has made drinking water easily available in most parts of the province. In many areas orchards have blossomed producing rich cash crops to the benefit of its owners and cultivators through availability of water pumped out by tubewells, installed of which has been materialised by Wapda's efforts.

Recreational Facilities

Many tourist resorts, such as at Tarbela, Mangla and at Barrages, have developed in the country as a result of construction of Wapda projects. Hundreds of thousands of people visit these places annually and enjoy the scenic beauty. The visitors also include heads of states and important personalities from abroad.

Fish Cultivation

Wapda is cultivating lot of fish on scientific lines in its reservoirs to meet the deficiency of proteins in Pakistanis' food and to preserve fish culture. Millions of kilograms of fish is now annually produced by Wapda at Tarbela, Mangla, Chashma and made available to the nation.
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Title Annotation:Pakistan. Water and Power Development Authority
Publication:Economic Review
Date:Mar 1, 1990
Previous Article:Power projects in the private sector.
Next Article:Seminar on conservation of power.

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