WITH ECNEC giving approval, the construction of Bhasha Dam, the world's highest Roller Compacted Concrete Dam, would finally start by October next year and the work would be finished in eight to ten years. This would be the first mega water reservoir after Tarbela Dam which was completed in 1974. The country suffers from serious water shortage, which is going to increase with the passage of time as India diverts water from the Chenab, Jhelum and Neelum rivers and more lands in Pakistan come under plough. Meanwhile, the storage capacity of Tarbela Dam has declined to 8.06 Million Acre Feet from the original 11.6 MAF and that of Mangla Dam to 4.7 MAF from 5.88 MAF. Pakistan also suffers from a chronic shortage of power, which is proving to be a big hurdle in the way of economic and social development. Under the circumstances, the country has to make optimum use of whatever water resources it possesses. Among other things, there is a need to take measures to build water reservoirs both large and small. Since 1974, there has been a lot of talk, but no movement, towards the goal. Ziaul Haq enjoyed a tenure of 11 years, and Musharraf of nine, both largely undisturbed, with all power concentrated in their hands. Both talked about Kalabagh Dam, kicking up a lot of controversy but doing little to create the national consensus needed to go ahead. While Gen (retd) Musharraf made promises to take electricity to every village, he did practically nothing to add to the power grid. The horrendous shortages being experienced now are the direct consequence of the neglect of the power sector under the military dictator. Bhasha Dam, with a storage capacity of 6.4 MAF would irrigate 33 million acres besides producing 4500MW of electricity. The construction of the dam would constitute a significant step towards the distant goal of self-sufficiency in irrigation water and power generation. Acting as a filter, it would also reduce the process of sedimentation in Tarbela Dam, thus increasing its lifespan. An amount of Rs 15 billion has already been allocated in the budget for land acquisition and payment of compensation. One hopes the government will not repeat the blunders committed in the rehabilitation of the displaced persons during the construction of Tarbela Dam. That the dispute over net hydel power profit of the NWFP from Bhasha Dam remains unresolved, despite the PPP and ANP being coalition partners, brings no credit to the government. As the reputation enjoyed by the PPP-led administration in financial matters is less than ideal, it will have to be extra careful and transparent in awarding contracts. Any scandalous transaction could lead to disastrous consequences. The ECNEC has also approved a number of small hydropower projects, which are all in the Northern Areas. What is needed is to make use of suitable terrain in the plains also for small hydel projects.