LAHORE: Due to negligence on the part of the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA), Mangla Dam is not filled by floodwater and the country missed the opportunity to exploit water for energy generation and agriculture purposes, a senior government official said.
“WAPDA has failed to settle even 10 percent inhabitants, which were affected due to Mangla Dam raising project,” said Mahmood Riaz, Minister for Information, Environment and Overseas Kashmiris, Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK) at Lahore Press Club.
Riaz said the delay in payments to the victims of the Mangla Dam raising project show the non-serious attitude of WAPDA.
“It was the first time when Pakistan gets an opportunity to fill the Mangla reservoir to its extended level, but unfortunately WAPDA missed it,” he said.
The AJK minister said that WAPDA completed the construction activity in a remarkable time, but it did not bother to settle the affected people due to which floodwater was wasted, which also destructed the infrastructure all over the country.
Riaz said that AJK had tremendous potential for hydel power generation and a number of domestic and foreign investors want to invest in the energy sector, but it had no authority to start any power project larger than 100MW on its own.
He said that earlier the permissible limit was 50MW, but after long and tireless efforts now the federal government had allowed the development of 100MW power projects.
The construction activity on Neelum-Jhelum hydropower project is in progress, he said, adding that a Chinese firm has completed a major portion of tunnels construction and the remaining work would be completed within six months.
However, the minister said that as it is a gigantic project, it would start producing power sometime in 2018.
In addition, he said, some 20 small power projects are also in different stages, which would generate 700MW.
Speaking about Kishanganga Dam, Riaz said that Pakistan should develop dams long ago, but it had missed that opportunity too.
The energy demand in Pakistan had increased manifold during the previous decade. The federal government should plead Pakistan’s case according to the Indus Water Treaty.
The United Nations and the World Bank should also play their active role to resolve water dispute, he added.
Highlighting the investment avenues in tourism and trade, he said that the AJK government had announced the establishment of free zone in Mirpur.
It had been proposed that special power lines should be set up from Mangla Dam for this free zone, he added.
Punjab is a major trade partner of AJK, but the bad shape of road infrastructure is hurting the trade between Punjab and AJK, he said, adding that most of the access roads could still not be developed after the 2005 earthquake. He urged the Pakistani businessmen to visit and invest in AJK.