Water Shortages Could Stall Mangla Dam Work
4 Jun 2012 by OOSKAnews Correspondent
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A project to increase the capacity of Pakistan's
second-largest dam may hit a snag due to water shortages, according to
the country's Water and Power Development Authority.
Authority chairman Shakil Durrani told officials in Kashmir at the end
of May that the $1 billion USD project to raise the height of the Mangla
Dam on the Jhelum River to its maximum level of 378.5 meters may not be
completed because there is not enough water to fill the reservoir.
According to Durrani, the project "would store an additional [3.6
billion cubic meters] of water and generate 644 million additional units
"It will significantly contribute toward the socio-economic development
of Pakistan," he said. The authority estimates that additional benefits
from the project will be worth some $193 million USD per year.
The dam's height was raised by 9 meters back in October 2011. Experts
said this was necessary because the dam's reservoir had lost almost 20
percent of its capacity due to sedimentation.
However, increasing the size of the dam was a controversial move. The
project spent a long time in limbo due to opposition from the people who
were displaced by the dam work.
Durrani said those affected by the project were compensated through "an
unprecedented compensation and resettlement package."
Some $700 million USD of the project's cost was spent on compensation
and resettlement, including construction of the new Mirpur City.
With this hurdle gone, the Water and Power Development Authority turned
its attention to filling the reservoir. But low water availability in
the Jhelum will likely hamper this effort.
This year, temperatures in the catchment areas of the Jhelum and other
major rivers in Pakistan have remained abnormally low, resulting in less
melting of ice and thus less discharge of water.
According to data from the Punjab Irrigation Department, the Mangla Dam
is usually filled to its 80 percent mark by June 30 every year.
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