The deposition of sediment in the reservoir behind the Tarbela dam has absorbed 20 per cent of its storage capacity, threatening the capability of the project to deliver water and ultimately electricity. Sand accumulates at a rate of 550 000 t each day and it has been estimated that it will cost $353 million to clean the reservoir.

Tarbela, which has a generating capacity of 3478 MWe, provides around 60 per cent of the power in Pakistan. If this capacity is threatened, the country will need to build new hydro capacity.

The country has sites with a potential generating capacity of 35 000 MWe and only around 10 per cent of this total has been exploited. As part of its drive to increase capacity, the government is expected to seek private sector constructors for three or four new projects where feasibility studies have been completed. These include Daral Khuwar, Allai Khuwar and Khan Khuwar.