ISLAMABAD - The Ministry of Water Resources has said that a delta is moving towards Tarbela reservoir, and warned that it has the potential to hit the structure of the dam and is a constant threat to choke down the reservoir.

The Senate Standing Committee on Water Resources, which met under the chairmanship of Senator Syed Muhamad Sabir Shah here, was informed that delta, which presently is four miles away from the reservoir, has the potential to hit the structure of the dam.

Joint Secretary Ministry of Water Resources, while briefing the committee, said that delta is moving toward Tarbela reservoir.

General Manager Wapda Azam, during briefing on the issue of silting at Tarbela Dam, informed the committee that a delta is moving towards Tarbela dam which at present is four miles away from the reservoirs and moves with a speed of 0.25 mile/annum. The delta movement is apprehended to hit the structure of the Tarbela reservoir. The committee was also cautioned that a sudden earthquake can also increase the potential danger of clogging due to liquefaction of bottom set and fore set slopes would increase as the delta moves closer to the dam.

The committee was apprised that the percentage loss in gross and live storage capacity of Tarbela dam is 43pc and 39pc respectively. The committee was further briefed that the option of de-silting of Tarbela reservoir has been considered and its pros and cons have been evaluated that de-silting of Tarbela reservoir will choke the entire irrigations system. Senator Taj Haider expressed reservation on the analysis however suggested dredging starting from a smaller scale from where it is pivot and the storage of the silting as possible solutions. Senator Taj Haider also pointed that since silting was apprehended in Tarbela Dam, de-silting tunnels were constructed which were never being operated. The Ministry also informed the committee that the primary purpose of the Tarbela Dam and Mangla Dam is to regulate the flows of the Indus River for irrigation use and not to generate electricity and the power units are also closed for generating electricity. The Secretary Ministry of Water Resources said that through construction of Daso Dam the sediments on the upstreams can be contained which can save the Tarbela reservoir. Senator Muhammad Hamayun Mohmand raised question on the non-construction of Basha Dam which was to be constructed in 2017. The Joint Secretary Water Ministry explained that 10 years after the independence of Pakistan differed sites were identified for dam construction not keeping in view the various modern factors faced at a later stage and the global climate change factors. He further said that a Sedimentation Strategy is being formulated under water policy which will address all the issues concerning the water conservation and efficient working of the water reservoirs. The chairman Committee sought report on the compiled research report on the same and bring before the committee for further deliberation, recommendations and implementation.

The Senate Standing Committee had an in-camera session on the details regarding the starred question raised by Senator Seemee Ezdi in the Senate Sitting on the violations committed by India under the Indus Water Treaty causing water scarcity in Pakistan, indicating also the details of those articles of IWT violation by India so far,.

The matter was taken and deferred till the next meeting for further deliberation.

The committee also received a comprehensive briefing from the Chairman Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) on the water conservation approaches and wastewater recycling. The chairman PCRWR said that under the National Water Policy 2018, 100pc metering for drinking water supplies and enforcement of Polluter Pays principles are being introduced. The chairman appraised the committee on the major issues of the water and said that low water prices and inadequate water storage facility is being faced. The committee was also briefed that of over 6000 registered industries in Pakistan, 1228 are considered highly polluting.

Senator Taj Haider said that cotton growers didn’t receive water which led to poor crop and apprehended that in the next 6 months cotton imports worth $10b will be required just to keep the industry going. It was also informed that in Karachi city which accommodates 70pc of Pakistan industry, approximately 70pc of wastewater reaches the Arabian Sea without any treatment. The PCRWR discussed the wastewater Management Challenges and suggested a way forward. In order to recycle the water, the PCWRC has identified 100 sites to CDA to check whether there is a potential for wastewater treatment which can be initiated.

He said that enforcement of water and environment litigations and water stewardship at industrial level is required. He said that strict implementation of the National Water Policy 2018, National Environment Policy 2005 and National Sanitation Policy 2006 is the need of the day. Senator Taj Haider recommended that the financial onus for water waste treatment should also be shared between the provincial government and the federal government on 50 50 basis.