WE have miserably failed to exploit fully the vast natural hydropower potential of our land over the past more than seven decades. This is unpardonable and all the successive governments and leaders should be held responsible for their inaction and lack of foresight, depriving the nation of much-needed inexpensive clean energy and water storage capacity.

If decisions of national importance are not taken in time, the nation has to pay a heavy price, as we are doing today. Out of over 60,000MW potential, only 15 per cent has been realised.

We failed to build large and medium-sized hydropower projects when their construction cost was much less and when these could have been funded by the World Bank and other international donors at optimum interest rates and with soft loans.

We are in a habit of politicising national projects of great importance. The Kalabagh Dam project is the perfect example. Had it been built 30 years ago, much of our water and power problems would have been solved by now.

The total cost of the project, at that time, was only $2.5 billion which was to be fully funded by the World Bank. Now the cost stands at over $15 billion.

A dam downstream of Tarbela is also important as a replacement when Tarbela gets stilted up. The fate of Diamer-Bhasha dam hangs in the balance due to lack of financing.

The United States developed all its hydro potential a long time ago by according it top priority. We have failed to learn from the others. Will our politicians and leaders be ever held accountable for not taking the right decisions at the right time?

Riaz Bhutta
Lahore

Published in Dawn, June 4th, 2021

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