A deadly earthquake may be triggered due to the increased water pressure in Rawal Dam at any time in the near future, causing colossal damage to the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad. 

According to a feasibility report, the dam lies in the seismic zones 2B and 3 which have been subjected to sever shaking in the past. However, a geological report, compiled by the Small Dams Division, Islamabad, does not identify strategic and mitigating measures that can be adopted in case of any calamity. Adeel Afzal, Sub Divisional Officer (SDO), Rawal Dam, said, “Many illegal societies have been constructed around the dam, and if any such catastrophe occurs, localities such as Lakhowal and Mohra Noor will be badly affected. A number of cases regarding illegal constructions in these areas are pending in local courts.” 

Built in the 1960s by Water and Power Development Authority(WAPDA), the dam was constructed over River Korang with an approximate storage capacity of 47,500 acre feet with the purpose to supply water to the twin cities. Korang river lies above the teeth shaped Rawat fault line, which passes through Islamabad and covers parts of Rawalpindi city as well. Rawal dam was a local government project at that time but no seismic survey was conducted prior to construction of the dam. 

A research carried out by International Rivers in 2002 holds a phenomenon (known as Induced Reservoir Seismicity) responsible for triggering earthquakes in dams and reservoirs. If a dam is built in a region which is susceptible to earthquakes, there are possibilities of increased pressure due to water storage, causing rocks deep down to fracture and break, consequently activating the nearby faults. 

ZAINAB NAEEM,  

Islamabad, September 1.