The News, Thursday, May 12, 2011
ISLAMABAD: After restricting the flow of waters in the Indus, Jhelum and
Chenab rivers by building hydropower projects on these rivers, India
seems poised to intensify the water war against Pakistan with a plan to
build 12 hydropower projects on the Kabul River in Afghanistan.
Indian experts are extending help to Afghanistan to build 12 dams on the
Kabul River with a total water storage capacity of 4.7 Million Acre Feet
(MAF), 25% more than that of Mangla Dam.
According to documents exclusively available with The News, the
government of Afghanistan is initiating multi-purpose water projects on
the tributaries of the Kabul River with assistance from the
international community. India plans to assist Afghanistan in this
initiative, which will adversely impact Pakistan. The documents also
show that the World Bank will provide funding for the 12 dams that will
cost $7.079 billion.
Meanwhile US authorities have also offered their services to facilitate
a water treaty between Pakistan and Afghanistan to ward off a future
water dispute between the two countries. According to documents, four
hydropower projects will be constructed in Punjshir sub-basin. These
include the $332 million Totumdara project which will generate 200 MW of
electricity and have water storage capacity of 332510 acres feet; the
$1.174b Barak project which will generate 100 MW of electricity and
store 429830 acres feet of water; $ 1.078 billion Panjshir (100 MW)
project with the capacity to store 1054300 acres feet of water; and the
$607 million Baghdara (210 MW) project with the capacity to store 324400
acres feet of water.
In the Logur Upper Kabul sub-basin on the Kabul River four more dams are
to be built which include the $72 million Haijana project (72 MW) with
water storage capacity of 178420 acres feet; $207 million Kajab (15 MW)
project with water storage capacity of 324400 acres feet; the $356
million Tangi Wadag (56 MW) project with capacity to store 283850 acres
feet; and $51m Gat (86 MW) project with water storage capacity of 405500
Four more dams will be built in the Lower Kabul sub-basin, including the
$442 million Sarobi project (210 MW) with the capacity to store 324400
acres feet of water,; the $1.434 billion Laghman project (1251 MW) with
water storage capacity of 233568 acres feet; and the $1.094 billion
Konar (A) (94.8 MW) and Kama projects (11.5 MW).
Pakistan and Afghanistan currently share nine rivers with annual flows
of about 18.3 million acres feet (MAF) of which Kabul River accounts for
16.5 MAF, while River Chitral, which originates from Pakistan,
contributes about 8.5 MAF. After it enters Afghanistan this river is
called River Kunar. It joins the Kabul River near Jalalabad and then
Arshad H Abbasi, a water and energy expert associated with the
Sustainable Development Policy Institute in Islamabad has written a
letter to President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yusuf Raza
Gilani drawing their attention towards the Indian plan and urging them
to address the issue with the help of neutral experts.
The letter, a copy of which is available with The News, says: "Ninety
percent of Afghanistan's land area is located in the five river basins
namely: Panj-Amu Darya River Basin, Northern River Basin,
Harirud-Murghab Basin, Helmand River Basin and Kabul River Basin.The
total storage capacity of these dams is around 4.7 Million Acre Feet,
which is 25% more than that of Mangla Dam. It is further estimated that
the planned dams will utilise 0.5 MAF water to irrigate additional
14,000 acres of land.
"Afghanistan has the right to utilise water from the Kabul River as the
total flow of Kabul River is 21,000 Million Cubic Meter. But River
Kunar, which contributes 15,000 Million Cubic Meter to the Kabul River,
originates from Pakistan.
"In the absence of major dams in Pakistan, it is feared that Pakistan
will have to buy electricity from Afghanistan, which is the underlying
purpose of the above mentioned plan of the Afghan Government in
collaboration with India."
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