Pakistan Minister for Water and Power, Gohar Ayub, informed the National Assembly on Monday that work on the Ghazi Barotha dam had been delayed by 11 months; and said that each day’s delay meant a loss of one million US dollars. He stated, however, that the Water and Power Development Agency (WAPDA) had arranged for funding for completion of the dam.

According to Gohar Ayub, it would cost Rs28B (US$ 560M) to complete the dam. Rs16-18B (US$320-360M) would be provided by the Authority, while the remainder would be provided by the federal government.

The Minister added that the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank had been informed about the new funding arrangements and he said that he hoped that the dam would now be completed on time.

According to the Minister, the royalties for power generation are allocated to the province where the power station is located — the Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP). Punjab, he said, has not claimed any royalty although land in Haripur district had been dug up for the project and the area people were relocated. After completion of the project, an area greater than that which was lost would be reclaimed and the original owners could buy land there.

The Minister was asked how much royalty would accrue to the NWFP after completion of the project. Gohar Ayub said that since the Ghazi Barotha project was still in the development stage no method for inter-provincial sharing of power profit had been worked out. However, provisions of the Constitution would be kept in view to arrive at any such decision.

The Minister then discussed the Tarbela dam. He said that at Tarbela the daily influx of 0.5M ton of silt had created a 132ft mound which is only 8km away from the power house. Replying to questions by members of the Assembly he said that water resources are depleting at the rate of 32% per year, exacerbated by decreasing capacities at Tarbela and Mangla reservoirs due to siltation.

The Minister said that an additional storage capacity of 6.2M acre-feet of water is needed every 5-10 years. He noted that the ‘Lift’ method had been studied for Mangla dam to increase its storage capacity, but its foundations are on sand stones and it will be dangerous.

He said that different methods of dredging and flushing are also being tried. For example, he said, a method had been considered that was used in China by a Swiss company, who tried coating the walls of the tunnel and allowing sand and debris to pass on through it. This method cannot be tried in Pakistan because the capacity of the Chinese dams is very small, compared to Tarbela and Mangla.

He said if these methods were to be used at Tarbela the pond will be blocked by sand and debris. However, the Ministry’s water department is actively looking into the problem in great detail.

Gohar Ayub said that additional water resources will be crucial as the population of the country will double in the next 25 years. Replying to a supplementary question by Member Ghulam Dastgir Khan on Kalabagh dam, Ayub said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has announced that the dam will not be built until there is a consensus among the provinces.

He said the there is no funding available for the project.

‘If we start today, five years will be required to prepare the feasibility, 2.5 years for calling international tenders and eight years for construction and completion, which means it will take at least 15 years,’ he said.