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Mohamand Dam inauguration.

Prime Minister Imran Khan is performing the ground breaking of Mohamand dam on the River Swat. The project was conceived 50 years ago in the government of big dams storage builder President Ayub Khan but it could not be materialized due to lack of interest by the succeeding rulers both elected and non-elected. It was again revived in the era of President Musharraf but its formal launching was delayed for different reasons. At that time the construction cost was estimated to be $1 billion which has escalated to S2 billion. Senator Faisal Javed in tweet thanked the donors for their contributions in financing the project.

Mohamand dam has a water storage capacity of 1.28 million acre feet and power generation potential of 730 megawatt. The construction of the dam shall be completed in six years. However, the schedule can be reduced with the application of modern technology. Two canals will be fed from the water reservoir to irrigate cultivable lands in the Pindyali and Prangghar subdivisions of tribal district of Mohamand in addition to augmenting water supply to the already irrigated lands of food basket districts of Charsadda and Mardan through Munda Canal.

After the completion of Tarbella dam 43 years ago not a single storage dam was built and every year water resources worth $ 21 billion are being thrown into the sea despite the fact that the provinces of Punjab and Sindh face 40 percent water shortages for Kharif crops. Due to animosity shown to the construction of storage dam Pakistan became water stressed country from the water surplus one. In September last year water resources secretary told Senate Committee on water scarcity that current water storage capacity is 13.7 million acre feet thus 10 percent of the available water resources is conserved. The country has water storage capacity for hardly 36 days whereas other countries of the world have 130 days storage capacity.

In fact it were the Supreme Court directives which paved the way for fast tracking the process for launching new dams. Former Chief Justice MianSaqibNisar announced a fund for the construction of Mohamand and DiyamerBasha Dams. The Apex Court also constituted an Implementation Committee of DiyamerBasha and Mohamand Dam (ICBDM). The anti-dam lobby sprang into action and some leaders of PML-N and PPP in their statements cast doubts about arranging finances for the construction of dams. The donors' positive response towards Mohamand dam proved them wrong. However, multilateral donors like the World Bank is reluctant to contribute to funding of DiyamerBasha dam on the pretext that the dam sight is situated in a disputed territory. But at the same time the same donor agency is financing Dasu hydropower project. DiyamerBasha dam project has to be withdrawn from the framework of CPEC because of the irrational Chinese conditions. But eventually the incumbent government will succeed in arranging finances for this dam as well which has a storage capacity of 8.1 million acre feet and power generation potential of 4500 megawatt. With the completion of these two dams the water storage capacity will increase to 56 days.

DiyamerBasha dam is no substitute for Kalabagh dam as the multilateral donor agencies have no reservations about its funding. The leadership of ANP and PPP has failed to substantiate their anti-Kalabagh dam stance with authentic and detailed technical data. In July 2010, it was the flood in Sawat River, Kabul River and Jindi River which inundated the districts of Charsadda and Nowshera and not largely by backward flooding of River Indus. The construction of Mohamand dam will substantially lower the water flow of these three rivers into the River Indus and minimise even the remote chances of backward flooding from Kalabagh dam. From the reservoir of the dam five southern districts of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa will get irrigation water for 1million acre fertile cultivable land which is currently rain fed. Hopefully, PTI leadership will take lead for evolving consensus for the construction of Kalabagh dam.
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Publication:Frontier Post (Peshawar, Pakistan)
Date:May 2, 2019
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