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19 June, 2018 00:00 00 AM

India-Afghanistan collaboration

Saddam Hussain

The recent statement of former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, which claimed an end to the drastic and decades-old power shortfall, evoked wider dissension among the temperature-trodden masses. The ex-premier vowed to add power worth 11,460 MW to the national grid during the five-year tenure of PML-N. He went on expecting about 11,000 more megawatts in the next three years from projects initiated by his government. According to Abbasi, the currently installed capacity of the country stands at around 28,000 MW.

Installed capacity deals with power production at optimum level, when everything, from resource to turbines and generators, works perfectly. This condition is seldom achieved.

The turbines, generators and other equipment may practically not work to that efficiency they are theoretically designed for. By keeping all the other equipment and factors aside, the foremost hindrance to optimum production is the fluctuating renewable resources. In Pakistan, the major renewable energy resources include water, solar radiations and wind. Though all the mentioned resources are natural and prone to seasonal and atmospheric variations, the hydel fluctuations produce severe repercussions, as a lion share of the country’s energy depends upon Indus river system.

The seasonal flow in Indus system reaches a maximum during monsoon, and the installed capacity operates nearly at optimum. It is during this season when a major share of the annual flow (about 75 per cent) is lost to floods due to the absence of adequate storage facilities. In the rest of the summer, northern glaciers regulate the flow greatly. The winter flow is generally enough for the attenuated demand of the country.

Like the rest of the world, climate change has posed a serious threat to the level of Indus network flow in three general ways. Firstly, the drought conditions that prevail throughout the length of the seasons result in a lesser contribution of catchments to the stream flows. The drought-hit productive aquifers of Indus become less likely to yield effectively.

Secondly, the Himalayan glaciers and northern snow covers are melting excessively; thereby, depleting the flow in the rivers of Indus basin. Finally, the globally increased temperature and frequent heat waves have triggered evaporation from rivers and major reservoirs. This seems futile though but produces the preponderant cumulative effect. The depleted flow level of Indus river network, contributed greatly by the above-mentioned reasons, is interrupting the power production capacity of the system predominantly.

The water-terrorism on Indian part has long fuelled the fire lit by mismanagement and climate change. India has always misappropriated its counterpart’s share of Indus network in utter disregard of Indus Water Treaty. IWT alots the western rivers of Indus, Jhelum and Chenab to Pakistan with permission to India to build only run-of-the-river hydroelectric projects without diverting the river route and depleting the downstream river flow. India has several times violated these provisions by building structures that have not only posed a threat to the country’s power production but also affected the agriculture sector drastically.

India has a long history of water terrorism in IOK; spanning over 244 structures on the rivers that flow into Pakistan. Some of these controversial projects are the recently developed Kishanganga hydropower station, Baglihar Dam and Tulbul Project (a control structure at the mouth of Wular Lake on river Jhelum).

Kishanganga hydropower station is a 330-MW power project constructed on Neelam River (a tributary of Jhelum) in Bandipore, IOK. Construction work on the dam began in 2007, which was temporarily halted by Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2011 due to Pakistan’s objection. On 19 May 2018, Indian PM Narendra Modi inaugurated the project.

The dam is designed to divert Neelam waters to an underground power station, which will transfer the water from Gurez area (where the river enters into Pakistan), back into Indian Occupied Kashmir. The remaining depleted flow of the river will affect both the agriculture and power production of Pakistan. It has been estimated that the Indian project will decrease the power capability of Neelam-Jhelum hydropower station by 9 percent.

Like Kishanganga, Baglihar Dam is a hydroelectric power project constructed on Chenab River in Doda district of Jammu and Kashmir. The project diverts Chenab waters; thereby depleting the level of downstream flow. According to a recent report, the controversial project has resulted in a depletion of about 30,000 cusecs in Chenab River.

Apart from its eastern water-terrorism, India is now set to back water-terrorism in Afghanistan. Like Kashmir, Afghanistan possesses the sources of many rivers that flow into Pakistan. The most important of all these rivers is Kabul River, which is not only covering Warsak dam but also irrigates large chunks of land in Peshawar, Charsadda and Nowshera.

India plans to assist Afghanistan in constructing multiple dams on river Kabul, for which the feasibility study is already completed by India. The proposed dams will affect Pakistan more severely, as we do not possess any water-sharing treaty with Afghanistan.

In the present scenario, when Chenab, Jhelum and Kabul are prone to frequent misappropriation, Indus is the best alternative. Indus not only possesses an overwhelming power production capacity but unlike Jhelum and Chenab, passes mostly through the territories that lie under Pakistan’s control.

Owing to these mentioned advantages, Pakistan should construct major reservoirs on river Indus at earliest. It should be kept in mind that small projects on a river of overwhelming discharge like Indus will not parallel gigantic projects like Dasu, Diamir and Kalabagh. Kalabagh dam is thus, a justifiable project and should be embarked on for the vested interests and energy security of the country.

The writer is a Pakistani engineer



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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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