MUZAFFARABAD: Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) President Sardar Masood Khan on Sunday paid tributes to the people of Mirpur for sacrificing their homes, fields and other immovable properties for construction and extension of Mangla Dam for the progress and prosperity of Pakistan.

He said the issue of provision of water for drinking and irrigation purposes to them from the reservoir would be taken up with the federal government.

“Though the government generously offered compensation and alternative land for accommodation to the affected people of Mirpur, it remains a stark truth that no amount of money can compensate one’s emotional bondage with his birthplace,” said the president during a visit to Mangla powerhouse on the outskirts of Mirpur.

AJK minister for works and communications Chaudhry Mohammad Aziz and minister for information and tourism Mushtaq Minhas were accompanying the president.

The president said before launching new power projects [in AJK] Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) should take effective measures for mitigation of likely environmental hazards as well as the reservations of the citizens.

Since long, the AJK government has been demanding 614 cusecs of water - 214 cusecs for drinking and about 400 cusecs for irrigation purposes - in Mirpur district as its due right.

Earlier, while briefing the president and cabinet members, additional chief engineer Mangla powerhouse Karim Nawaz said the multipurpose dam had been playing a leading role in economic and social development and prosperity of the country for more than a half century.

The biggest water reservoir is not only providing irrigation water to the downstream areas of the Punjab but is also a major source of flood control and electricity generation, he said.

He said the initial water storage capacity of the dam, which was completed in 1967, was 1,200 feet which had been increased by 242 feet in the recent extension initiated in 2004 and completed in 2009.

After extension, electricity generation has also scaled up from 1,000 to 1120 megawatts, he added.

Mr Nawaz said at the time of its commissioning experts were of the view that the dam’s life would be 100-115 years but Wapda’s watershed management policy and upraising project had enhanced the life of the dam to 269 years.

Published in Dawn, April 8th, 2019