Water capacity of Pakistan is 140 million acre feet but storage capacity is only 13 million acre feet.

ISLAMABAD/LAHORE   -   Federal Minister for Water Re­sources Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah visited WAPDA House on Saturday and had a briefing about the progress as well as post-flood situation at under-construction WAPDA projects.

Addressing the participants, the federal minister underlined the significance of constructing dams and hydropower projects. He said this is our collective re­sponsibility to move forward for harnessing water resources in the country. This will enable us to store water for irrigation, control floods and generate low-cost and environment friendly hydel electricity. Reviewing the post-flood situation, the federal minister expressed satisfaction over the contingency plans of WAPDA to mitigate the possible delays in completion of the proj­ects due to the recent floods. He assured that Ministry of Water Resources would fully support WAPDA in this regard.

Earlier, Chairman WAPDA Lt Gen (r) Sajjad Ghani apprised the federal minister about the grim water situation in Paki­stan. He said we have no other option but to build more dams to improve water situation in the country. He also informed the minister about adverse im­pact of the recent floods on the construction sites of Dasu Hy­dropower Project and Mohm­and Dam. The chairman said every effort is being made to resume construction activities on these projects in the shortest possible time by devising an ef­fective strategy. It is worth men­tioning here that WAPDA is con­structing 10 projects in water and hydropower sectors with gross water storage capacity of 11.7 MAF and power generation capacity of 11,268 MW.

Meanwhile, Federal Minister for Water Resources Syed Khur­shid Ahmad Shah has said that we are wasting water worth $ 10 to 15 billion every year while we look to the world for the aid of $2 billion.

He was speaking at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Indus­try. LCCI President Mian Nauman Kabir presented the address of welcome while Senior Vice Presi­dent and Vice President Haris Ateeq also spoke on the occasion. Former LCCI office-bearers and Executive Committee Members were also present.

Syed Khurshid Ahmad Shah said that we were planning to in­crease agriculture production to export but the floods have given a big blow. He said that water ca­pacity of Pakistan is 140 million acre feet but the storage capac­ity is only 13 million acre feet. He said that the infrastructure is being built that will increase the storage capacity by 14 to 15 mil­lion acre feet. He said that 80% economy is related to agriculture but it is being ignored.

The minister said that 50-60 years ago, rupee and dollar were almost equal but today there is a huge difference. The main rea­son is that people don’t trust and the world is confused about Pak­istan. He said that in 1994-95, an agreement was signed to pro­duce cheap electricity from coal but it was terminated as soon as the government changed.

LCCI President Mian Nauman Kabir said that the politicians said that the dams will be built on their dead bodies, today, they have more than 1200 bodies therefore, the dams should be built without any further delay. He said that the floods are getting worsen with the passage of time. First floods and later droughts play havoc with the country. He said that Iran is saving water by man-made lakes while we are wasting it to the sea.

Mian Nauman Kabir said that unfortunately, economic issues are not being discussed in cabi­net. He said that the era of geo­politics is over, now is the era of geo-economy.

“We realized today’s situa­tion four or five years ago, Syed Khurshid Ahmad Shah said and added that the opposition pro­posed a charter of economy to the then government though it should have been asked to the opposition by the government. He said that Pakistan is a rich and resourceful country, if it is guided in the right direction, it can become self-reliant.

The minister informed the house that they have made 30 legislations in a day which is a record. He LCCI efforts for the flood affectes are commendable. He said that the business com­munity has played a leading role in the developed economies.

Mian Nauman Kabir said that the devastating floods have played havoc and created newer & bigger challenges for us. This scenario calls for taking imme­diate steps by all the segments of society to rescue the persons who are still stuck in floodwaters and arrange maximum support to internally displaced people.

He said that whenever any natural calamity occurred on our country, LCCI has been making all out efforts. We have not only created Flood Relief Fund worth 50 million rupees but also supplying tents, foods items to the affected areas to ease their hardships.

He said that the Executive Committee Members of LCCI have decided to rebuild a village containing at least 100 houses on its own expenses. This would be a community based develop­ment project which will include a school, a technical training cen­ter, a healthcare center for gener­al public and another healthcare center for animals. Moreover, we have planned to supply electric­ity to the village through solar panels and ensure full arrange­ments for proper sanitation.

The LCCI president said that this situation calls for construct­ing new dams either small or big to mitigate the force of floodwa­ters. If there were water reser­voirs timely built near the banks of national rivers, the situation would not have been that worse.

He drew the attention of Min­ister towards Pakistan’s energy mix that is very inefficient as 60% of our energy is still gener­ated from expensive fossil fuel based thermal sources while the share of cheaper renewables (including Solar, Wind and Ba­gasse etc.) in our electricity gen­eration is less than 5 percent.

He said that current inef­ficient energy mix makes our energy sector highly vulnerable to the fluctuation in global oil prices and results in tariff hikes, subsidies, circular debt and in­efficiencies. These factors alto­gether hamper the competitive­ness of our industrial sector.

Mian Nuaman Kabir said that there is a need to focus on Re­newable Energy, particularly So­lar Power. He strongly proposed that Special Financing Schemes at low cost rates should be initi­ated for financing of renewable energy projects.

He said that the inflation rate for the month of August 2022 has already gone to 27.3% and the issue of excessive electric­ity bills is adding fuel to the fire. The honorable courts have also given the directions that fuel ad­justment charges should not be collected from the consumers. Despite these orders, the DISCOs are collecting fuel adjustment charges. This practice is unfair and adversely impacting the competitiveness of businesses. We request that fuel adjustment charges already collected from the consumers should be refund­ed back immediately.