LAHORE

Wapda is all set to initiate feasibility study of Chniot Dam project, as it has decided to arrange Rs86.7 million from its own resources besides a sum of Rs.50 million to be provided by the federal government for the purpose. The project is of immense importance for mitigating floods of River Chenab in addition to water storage for agriculture and low-cost hydel electricity generation. The future water requirements for the industry, likely to be set up in the region in the wake of the discovery of iron, copper and gold reserves in Chiniot, have also increased significance of the project.

The Central Development Working Party (CDWP) in the Planning Commission of Pakistan recently approved PC-II of Chiniot Dam for conducting feasibility study of the project at a cost of Rs.136.724 million. The CDWP, while approving the PC-II, said that the government would finance up to Rs.50 million while WAPDA would have to arrange rest of the amount from its own resources to conduct the study. In view of its importance, WAPA agreed to the proposal and decided to start the study as early as possible. The feasibility study is expected to be completed in one and a half year. After completion of the feasibility study and preparation of detailed engineering design, Chiniot Dam could be constructed in four years.

The Punjab plain, due to simple topography, has very little storage sites for flood water. The only site available on River Jhelum had already been developed by constructing Mangla Dam, which has proven its worth, time and again, to control floods in River Jhelum since its completion in 1967. River Chenab presents the only site 5- kilometer upstream of Chiniot city which can help store one million acre feet of water and generate 69 megawatt hydel electricity.

The main objectives of the Chiniot Dam include water storage, regulation of existing downstream canal network, power generation and most importantly flood mitigation. The devastating flood in Jhelum and Chenab rivers played havoc across Punjab in 2014. Though the raised Mangla Dam absorbed high flows of River Jhelum, there was no such dam at River Chenab.

This situation necessitates construction of Chiniot Dam on River Chenab without delay. The dam will also be helpful in meeting water requirements of the industry which is expected to flourish in the suburbs of Chiniot consequent to historic discovery of iron, copper and gold mines in the area.