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Large dams.

Byline: Mirza Ibrahim Baig - Karachi

APROPOS two articles 'Dam alternatives?' (July 10) and 'Large dams' (July 11). The writers have cautioned against building large dams and have cited a research paper published by major infrastructure researchers at Oxford University to buttress their arguments. The paper notes that among the 245 dams that were evaluated, average cost overruns were 96 per cent. Contrariwise, there exists a long list of dams that were built as planned, time- and cost-wise.

Having said this, despite cost overruns, dam construction can be beneficial. For instance, India's Sardar Sarovar hydro power plant in Gujarat had earned 160 billion Indian rupees till 2017, which was more than double the cost of its construction despite an escalation of approximately four times the original cost and being completed in a staggering 20-year period.

In addition, the Oxford report concedes that the problem of schedule and cost swelling are not unique to large hydropower dams; other large-scale energy projects face similar problems. The report further states that there is a dearth of reliable data on risk profiles of completed energy projects.

Therefore, in the absence of a comprehensive global data set that could enable comparison of energy alternatives, it would not be wise to conclude in favour of or against large dams as compared to other energy means.

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Publication:Dawn (Karachi, Pakistan)
Date:Aug 21, 2018
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