New dams to irrigate 20m acres of uncultivated land | The Express Tribune


KARACHI:

Around 20 million acres of uncultivated land can be brought under irrigation if water is made available by constructing dams, suggested Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) Chairman Muzammil Hussain.

Talking to a delegation of the National Defence University (NDU) – National Security Workshop on Friday, the Wapda chief revealed that the authority was executing a number of megaprojects, which would be completed by 2029 in a phased manner.

The projects, upon completion, will increase the country’s water storage capacity to 24 million acre feet (MAF) from 13 MAF, an addition of around 11 MAF, which will help irrigate about 1.6 million acres of land, according to a statement.

In addition to ensuring water and food security, the chairman said that Wapda was also executing a hydroelectric power generation expansion plan to help the country achieve energy security.

“We do not just need electricity, but we need cheap electricity to keep the wheels of our economy moving and tackle the ballooning circular debt faced by our energy sector,” he remarked.

At present, the hydel share in the overall energy mix stood at 31% with annual energy generation of 37 billion units.

The authority was eyeing to add 17 billion units of low-cost hydel electricity to take the total to 54 billion units by the year 2025. By 2028-29, it was aiming to increase production by 27 billion hydel units from 54 to 81 billion units, the statement added.

Similarly, the installed generation capacity of hydroelectric power would be increased from 9,406 megawatts to 12,366MW by 2025, and to 20,591MW by 2028-29, said Hussain.

The chairman apprised the delegation of the social benefits of these projects for the people.

Development schemes worth Rs102 billion would be completed in the areas located near the project sites, under the confidence-building measures of Wapda, he said.

There would also be employment opportunities for 35,000 people during the construction phase of the projects, he added.

About the water and power situation, Hussain said that there were daunting challenges “but these carry opportunities as well”. “Wapda is capitalising on these opportunities for economic and social gains.”

The delegation included senators, members of the National Assembly, members of provincial assemblies, civil servants and others.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 13th, 2021.

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