Mian Mohammad Mansha in an article has quite rightly questioned the claim that power from Bhasha dam will cost just 16 paisa per unit, the cost may be much higher because power will have to be transmitted 200 miles to Tarbela through inaccessible hilly terrain prone to landslides, putting up the cost of maintenance. To cut down on line losses over this long distance, instead of the readily available 500 KV switchgear, 750 KV switch gear will have to be acquired at a higher cost. But he is not correct in saying that hydel power is not cheap. Mangla and Tarbela dams are in fact producing power at Rs1.54 per unit and so will Kalabagh dam which has none of the constraints that Bhasha dam has.

However it is good that Mian Mohammad Mansha is not against construction of (mega) dams or hydel power. Small dams cannot give us the amount of water that is required to overcome the chronic shortages which are constantly pitting Sindh against Punjab, and for irrigating the 22 million acres of cultivable land which is lying barren. Nor can the small dams play an effective role in flood control. The million dollar question is can Pakistan wait 12 to 15 years for Bhasha dam?


Lahore, October 5.