The existing storages at Tarbela, Mangla and Chashma were constructed during 1965-1973 under the Indus Basin Treaty with aggregate design capacity of about 15 MAF. By the year 2010, these storages would have lost about 6 MAF of their capacity due to the situation. Presently, over 35 MAF river waters annually escape to sea. These surpluses are, however, available only during short summer period of 70 to 100 days and a number of dams on the rivers are required for conservation. The additional storage capacity should be enough for inter-season transfer (Kharif to Rabi) and also transfer from wet years to dry years. Annual wastage of 35 MAF surprisingly exceeds the total Rabi uses of the canals of all the four provinces. It is a multi-billion dollar treasure being dumped into the sea. The emerging scenario in the 21st century is of worsening fresh water scarcity for agricultural, industrial and urban uses. River storage dams are water conservation structures to regulate varying river flows and make them utilisable. Identified new river storages have an aggregate capacity of 34 MAF for on-line storages and 22 MAF for off-channel storages. All the identified on-line storages are multi-purpose hydropower projects on the Indus. It is estimated that by the year 2020 optimum water needs of additional storage would be 25 MAF equivalents to 5 large dams. Our existing live storage capacity is hardly 12 MAF or less than 10 percent of average annual river flows, while the international standards require 40 percent capability. This grossly inadequate storage capacity has enormous adverse effects on our use of available river resources and a series of storage dams at all feasible sites are our compelling requirement. Large dams on major rivers are strategic national assets and are the sole instrument to regulate seasonal surpluses. Decisions parameters relating to them are strategic in nature. Pakistan, in the recent decades, has been a victim of grave seasonal shortages. The two available river storage options in view are the Basha Dam and the Kalabagh Dam on the Indus, with aggregate capacity of 12 MAF. The main features of the two storage projects are given in brief, and the two projects are mutually complementary. From strategic and economic considerations their construction activities should be started concurrently. BASHA DAM PROJECT: Basha Dam on the Indus is located about 200 miles upstream of Tarbela Dam just downstream of Chillas town in a highly seismic zone. Its catchment area is beyond the range of summer monsoons. Annual average Indus flow here is 50 MAF almost entirely from snowmelt. The dam is about 900 ft high with storage capacity of 6 MAF and generation level of 3400 MW. The KKH approach road improvements are also being studied. A rollcrete dam, and two powerhouses, one on the right and one on the left, are planned. Risk analysis and needs of international bidding and project financing exceeding $9 billion may take time. KKH approach road up-gradation would also need substantial time and cost. Reliable EHV (Extra High Voltage) transmission over rugged, seismically active and barren high mountainous areas necessitate two EHV transmission routes. The project commissioning may take longer due to procedures of international bidding and financing institutions. It is a viable multipurpose project, but requires risk analysis and more intensive and extensive investigations and studies to make it a safe and a bankable project. It requires suitable contingency margins for time as well as costs, and its schedule for completion may approach 2020 KALABAGH DAM PROJECT: WAPDA and World Bank were responsible for planning, and detailed engineering studies of the multi-purpose Kalabagh Storage dam on the Indus located about 110 miles below Tarbela. This project of 6 MAF capacity and 3600 MW hydropower generation has been studied over thirty years. It has been subjected to most rigorous scrutiny for technical and economic viability at a cost exceeding one billion rupees. Kalabagh Dam is a low earth-rock fill dam 260 feet high. It is the lower most possible multi-purpose dam site on the Indus and can be completed in 6 to 7 years by 2013 to substantially improve water and hydropower situation. It is nearest to the power load centres and the 500 KV Transmission network, and would help in improving Tarbela generation by about 30 percent. Kalabagh Dam as the major irrigation storage dam will leave Tarbela to meet base load and peaking power needs. Exclusive Kalabagh specific advantages are that it is the only site that will store monsoon flows of the Indus and upstream tributary Kabul and Soan rivers. Indus annual average flows at Kalabagh are 90 MAF, at Tarbela 60 MAF, and at Basha 50 MAF. The project has the potential to provide gravity flow irrigation to about 5 lac acres barren but fertile areas in D I Khan and Bannu plains of NWFP province (through Right Bank High Level Canal), and of truly integrating the storage and diversion infrastructure of Pakistan (through Left Bank High Level Canal). No other dam has the potential to create these two facilities. The right and left bank canals create strategic advantages for NWFP and Sindh provinces, and for Pakistan and should essentially form an integral part of the Kalabagh Dam Project. PRIORITISATION OF DAMS CONSTRUCTION: Pakistan has only a few viable river storage sites, and every site would need optimum exploitation. It is also appropriate to plan integrated management of our three Western Rivers as one Zone. The urgent need is of prioritisation of on-line as well as off-channel storages to accelerate economic development and to defuse provincial confrontation on water and power issues. River supplies have to be conserved in surplus periods for use in the deficient periods as there are very wide fluctuations in our river flows during the year and also between wet and dry years. Annual wastage's to sea over the fifteen years even, after construction of Tarbela since 1976 have been substantial, with peak escapage in 1994-95 as high as 91.63 MAF. There have been contiguous wet years and also dry years, implying the need of not only summer-winter transfer needs but also complementary capacity to transfer wet year surpluses to dry years. The world's average is 40 percent regulatory capacity of average annual flow. This would imply system storage capacities of about 55 MAF or 40 MAF above the present level. Additional two dams having aggregate of 12 MAF capacity would provide the minimum storage needs. Addition of more river storage capacity for the system should be critically planned. The on-line storages have higher priority due to their superior benefits regarding cost, water and power potential. Creation of more storages help to improve, and in no way limit or reduce the existing uses among the provinces. Good governance in a federation is a core issue and perceived fears or apprehensions may not limit and cripple our growth. Ever since Water Accord 1991, inter-provincial sharing even in extreme shortage and drought periods have been satisfactorily monitored by the provincial and the federal governments and there has hardly been any case of breach of discipline. River water continues to be the most critical input for agriculture and other uses, to remove regional disparities, and to promote national integration and economic development Pakistan's requirements dictate that construction activity for both Kalabagh and Basha dams may be planned and started concurrently. The KKH approach road to Basha in a difficult seismically active terrain should be improved during this period to enable uninterrupted transport of construction and project machinery and completion of Basha Dam by 2020. Our dam construction activity over the future years has to be continuous, carefully planned and implemented. A reasonable minimum target by the year 2030 for the new dam capacities may be 25 to 30 MAF. Pakistan's interests essentially require an integrated system for the three western rivers based on a single basin concept. Such a system would provide a flexibility to ensure equity in water distribution and optimum use of our not very plentiful river water resources. It would also be a life saving measure against Indian interference with the Jhelum and the Chenab rivers during critical periods. The recent Indian measures on their Baglihar Dam project may be an eye opener. The writer is a former president of the Pakistan Engineering Council