Water Resources and Hydro-Power Programme

By Tarar, Col. Mohammad Safir | Economic Review, January 2003 | Go to article overview

Water Resources and Hydro-Power Programme


Tarar, Col. Mohammad Safir, Economic Review


Pakistan had landed into acute electric power shortage during the 8th decade and remained faced with in early 9th decade of the last century. Increasing power generation deficit, year after year posed difficulties in bailing out of the crisis due 'to fast increasing power consumption/demand at the same time and this became more and more difficult as the time passed on. The obvious consequence was the load-shedding (brownout) in the country.

These were the difficult years of test and trial for the WAPDA, responsible for development of water resources and managing power production, transmission and distribution in the country, and the government. Major reasons for the 'shortfall were the obstacles in the way of 900 megawatt atomic power station, in the planning of the government and WAPDA, because of the international pressures, the difficulties being faced due to politicizing of a big reservoir behind the dam to produce ultimate 3,600 mw low cost hydro-electric power, funds shortage hindrance in the way of setting up thermal power stations, having less gestation period, the only solution to fast bridge the supply-demand gap. In this backdrop, the then political leadership in power thought of and introduced the Energy Policy 1994 in view of additionality of fiscal and the production resources in the private sector. While the additionality of foreign and local funding and the resultant enhancement in power generation resources translated some posi tive impact and helped do away with the electricity load-shedding (brownouts), the irrational tariffs presented to the Independent Power Producers (IPPs) and the Power Purchase Agreements entered under the policy, did trace their negative impact. The most killing element was the heavy payments to IPPs that worked as a catalyst to push WAPDA into the state of near bankruptcy. On the other hand, when the impact due to the IPPs tariffs started coming on the general public as a result of but inevitable increase in electricity rates, the public also realized the would be pros and cons of the Energy Policy where as the industry, trade and agriculture sectors, better aware of the happening, were criticizing the policy from the very beginning.

However, when the actions to mend the follies committed by the internal and external factors, which pushed WAPDA to a devastating stage, when efforts to set the sails towards positive direction ended up in a futile exercise, the then political leadership in reign decided to bring in the Pakistan Army to rescue, for saving the sinking ship. The Army management to the assistance of WAPDA succeeded in taking the national organization out of troubles in comparatively a short span of time as a result of many a corrective and preventive measure. The measures clearly reflected wisdom, profound ability to understand the things and well thought and well considered actions of the present management. This approach brought forth a remarkable saving of $6 billion over life span of the IPPs as a result of successful negotiations for revision in their tariffs, WAPDA, at best, succeeded in regaining its basic role of water and power resources development after its administrative and financial conditions stood reformed. This is not only a happy omen of revival of WAPDA's fiscal strength but also revival of it chartered rule. This is the happy juncture of the history where a comprehensive and integrated water resources and hydropower development Megaplan 'Vision-2025' has been unfolded to the nation.

Its major objectives are, briefly, asunder:

* To bail the country, out of Water Crisis' faced with for the last two years due to climatic changes, so as to give boost to the agriculture sector which 'is backbone of the national economy.

* To Replenish the decrease in capacity of the existing reservoirs due to the natural phenomena of silting up and develop maximum possible water reservoirs for the agri-sector.

* To overcome necessitated increase in electricity rates in the face of heavy escalation of oil and gas prices, develop maximum of the abundantly available hydro-power potential as a part of the future strategy for the purpose of regionalizing the electricity rates within affordable limits of end consumers. …

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