ISLAMABAD - Indus River System Authority (IRSA) has increased the water release from Tarbela reservoir on the request of the federal government for the purpose of accelerating the work on Tarbela 4th extension project.

“IRSA has increased the discharge of water from Tarbela dam by 8000 cusecs to reduce the water level in the reservoir,” an official of the IRSA told The Nation here Thursday.

“We have been asked by the Ministry of Water and Power that the high level of water is impeding the speed of work on the Tarbela 4th extension of the dam,” the official said, adding that the body has increased the release of water from 40000 cusecs to 48000 cusecs,” the official maintained.

Then current water level in the dam is 1504 feet and, on the request from the government, IRSA will bring it down to 1490 feet, the source maintained.

Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) is currently working on 1410MW Tarbela 4th Extension Hydropower Project. Tarbela 4th Extension Hydropower Project will increase the generation capacity of Tarbela Hydropower Station to 4,888MW from the existing 3,478MW after installation of three units of 1,410MW on Tunnel No.4.

Under the plan, Tunnel-4 having three units of 470MW each would produce about 3.84b units and the project will be completed by the middle of 2017. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has already directed WAPDA for the completion of the project according to the schedule.

Tarbela 4th extension will add 1410 MW of cheap hydel electricity to Pakistan’s national grid per year with annual estimated benefits of about Rs30.7 billion on its completion. The cost for the Tarbela 4th extension project was estimated at $928 million. World Bank will pay an amount of $840 million as loan for the project.

The official further said that Punjab has also changed its water intend for the Rabi and asked IRSA to reduce water release from Mangla dam. The province is closing its non- perennial canals and its wants to reduce its share of water during the closure. The water regulatory body has reduced the water release from Mangla from 60000 cusecs to 35000 cusecs, the source maintained. It is pertinent to mention here that owing to improved water availability in the country the Indus River System Authority (IRSA) has already announced the downwards revision of the anticipated water shortage, for Rabi season, from 14 percent to 8 percent.