FAWAD YOUSAFZAI

ISLAMABAD

Quite surprisingly, the government has decided to decrease water sector allocation by 27 per cent in the upcoming budget and also not to include any new hydel power project in the upcoming PSDP. However, it has allocated a chunk of power sector funds for the ongoing Bhasha, Dasu and Tarbela 4th extension projects.

Out of PSDP allocation of Rs106 billion for power sector projects a big chunk will go to 14 ongoing hydel projects, including Bhasha dam, Dasu dam, Neelum Jhelum and Tarbella 4th extension etc, a source told The Nation adding that these are big projects and its timely completion can save us water and fulfill our energy requirements.

Beside hydel projects 6 ongoing and one new project of Gencos was incorporated in PSDP, the new project is the installation of coal-based power plant at Gwadar, the source maintained. Similarly for NTDCL 33 ongoing and 12 new projects have been incorporated in the PSDP. Distribution companies (Discos) have 70 projects, while Atomic Energy, Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan have 36 projects in the PSDP.

The total allocation for power sector will be increased to Rs281 billion after including Rs 175 billion to be spent separately by Wapda and the National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC). Though the government has increased the allocation for power sector it has not included any new hydel project in the PSDP and at the same time also decreased the allocation for water sector.

Regarding water sector allocation the source said that the total allocation for water sector in the PSDP is Rs 31.9 billion against the allocation of Rs 43.7 billion in the PSDP 2014-15, showing a decrease of 27 percent .The allocation is for dams, canals, drainage and reclamation related projects the source said adding that no new water reservoir has incorporated in the PSDP. Pakistan is on the verge of water scarce country and if the authorities didn’t make proper planning in water sector the country will face bigger crisis than the power shortage, sources warned adding that water projects are becoming a low priority for present government. “I am afraid if this trend continues, within next three years of the present government the water wing of the Planning Commission will be closed down,” a source in the Planning Commission told. The official said that Pakistan is losing about 20 to 21 maf water annually and the price of 1 maf is $1 billion, which means Pakistan is losing about $20 to 21 billion annually, the source maintained.  The next decade is crucial for us in term of water shortage and if the government didn’t make shrewd and prompt decisions today we will regret it. The government is taking the plea that they do not want to get into water projects like small dams.

The source said that the government seriousness towards the water projects is evident from the fact that Munda dam, to be constructed in KP, is an irrigation project with the capacity of 750 megawatt (MW) power generation did not make its way to the CDWP during last couple of years. The government is taking the plea that the project is being delayed because of the ongoing corruption investigation.