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January 5, 2019

Mohmand Dam will irrigate 15,100 acres of land

Islamabad

January 5, 2019

As Pakistan gears up to start work on the 740 Mega Watt Mohmand Dam, a rock-filled structure located on Swat River that is expected to irrigate 15,100 acres of land and control floods downstream, a fiery debate between the incumbent Pakistani government and its political adversaries has ignited on legalities and technicalities on award of this project’s tender, just days ahead of this facility’s formal inauguration this month.

Irrespective of what the controversy on award of tender is, the “Jang Group and Geo Television Network” has conducted a research that shows that this US $1.5 billion dam (estimated cost in 2010 was just over$1.4 billion) is expected to provide numerous estimated annual benefits including Rs. 4.98 billion in annual water storage, Rs. 19.6 billion in power generation by generating 2.4 billion units of electricity annually and Rs. 79 million in annual flood mitigation.

Having a length of 2,500 feet (760 metres) and a height: 698.82 feet (213.00 metres,) Mohmand Dam’s gross reservoir capacity is 1.290 Million Acre-Feet (MAF). (Reference/Source: Wapda reports on the subject)

According to an April 2, 2014 report of the “Business Recorder,”France had granted Euro 61 million (Rs. 8.5 Billion) funding for two hydropower projects in Pakistan.

The two projects were Mohmand hydropower project (740 MW) located in Mohmand agency, KPK and Harpo hydropower project (35 MW) in the Gilgit-Baltistan, Skardu region.

Agreement to this effect was signed by Ms. Nargis Sethi, the-then Secretary of Economic Affairs Division and Philippe Thiebaud, Ambassador of France to Pakistan and Denis Cassat, Country Director of the French Development Agency at that time.

This financing was aimed at completing the two hydropower projects with a total capacity to produce 785 MW in the country, a statement issued by the French Embassy Islamabad had said.

According to the “International Commission on Large Dams,” total dams and reservoirs in Pakistan over the height of 15 metres (49 ft) are only 150, as compared to around 4000 in India.

Research shows that in 1947, India had less than 300 large dames and by the year 2000, this number had gone up to 4000, with half of these structures built between 1971 and 1989.

Controversies and opposition to dams is a worldwide phenomenon:

Today, almost everywhere that a big dam is being planned or built, there is organized local opposition. In communities where existing dams have created severe problems, dam-affected people are demanding reparations, reveals a report of a California-based organization “International Rivers,” which has till held up, prevented or stopped 217 dam projected all across the world in collaboration with its partners around the world.

The report views: “In general, opponents of large dams do not believe that no dam should ever be constructed. They do believe that dams (and other development projects) should only be built after all relevant project information has been made public, the claims of project promoters of the economic, environmental and social benefits and costs of projects are verified by independent experts, and when affected people agree that the project should be built.”

The “International Rivers,” which has 859 NGO partners around the world and had over one million unique visitors hailing from 231 countries to their website between 2013 and 2015, has published 295 reports on this subject of dams’ construction in 21 languages since its inception in 1985.

According to this American organization, a large dam is defined by the dam industry as one higher than 15 metres (taller than a four-story building). There are more than 57,000 large dams worldwide.

There are more than 300 major dams - giants which meet one of a number of criteria on height (at least 150 metres), dam volume and reservoir volume.

The latest report of the “International Rivers” states that China has over 23,000 large dams. The United States is the second most dammed country with some 9,200 large dams, followed by India, Japan, and Brazil.

The NGP has further added in its report: “The rate at which large dams are completed has declined from around 1,000 a year from the 1950s to the mid-1970s to around 260 a year during the early 1990s. More than 3,700 hydropower projects are planned or under construction on the world’s rivers as of 2014. If built, they could block free-flowing rivers by more than 20 per cent.”

It has gone on to write: “Large dams have provoked opposition for numerous social, environmental, economic and safety reasons. The main reason for opposition worldwide are the huge numbers of people evicted from their lands and homes to make way for reservoirs. The livelihoods of many millions of people also suffer because of the downstream effects of dams: the loss of fisheries, contaminated water, decreased amounts of water, and a reduction in the fertility of farmlands and forests due to the loss of natural fertilizers and irrigation in seasonal floods.”

The report of “International Rivers” maintains: “Dams also spread waterborne diseases such as Malaria etc. Opponents also believe that the benefits of dams have frequently been deliberately exaggerated.

Having acted as a catalyst behind the formation of the globally-acknowledged “World Commission on Dams," whose recommendations form a gold standard for water and energy planning, this American NGO under review has asserted that between 40 and 80 million people have been displaced, the majority of them in China and India.

The report notes that more than 400,000 square kilometres - the area of California - have been inundated by reservoirs worldwide. This represents 0.3 per cent of the world’s land area.

The report further holds: “In nearly every case which has been studied the majority of people evicted - usually poor farmers and indigenous people - are further impoverished economically and suffer cultural decline, high rates of sickness and death, and great psychological stress. In some cases people receive no or negligible compensation for their losses. In Guatemala, during 1982, some 369 people, mainly women and children, were murdered after they had refused to accept the inadequate compensation offered for the loss of their homes to the Chixoy Dam.”

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