Home > Uncategorized > [Press review] Bhasha dam blunder? Now it has become a fight of Sindh and Punjab

[Press review] Bhasha dam blunder? Now it has become a fight of Sindh and Punjab

Sunday, August 23, 2009
Now that the Bhasha dam is making news it is time to revisit it. It seems that the decision is motivated more by politics and a need to avoid the construction of a dam at Kalabagh than anything else. Here is why: the dam will be dependent on the glaciers that feed the Indus in the area and hence should be a less feasible option than Kalabagh which has five rivers flowing into it and is in an area with reasonable average rainfall.

In addition to that, Bhasha is located in a highly seismic zone and originally its height was to be 680 feet and conventional compacted concrete was to be used as the material of its construction. But this design gave it a storage and generation capacity less than that of a dam at Kalabagh. Mixing politics with engineering, the height was increased to 908 feet giving it much higher storage and generation capacity. Also to improve upon costs and the time, material of construction was changed to roller compacted concrete. No dam with this material has been built above a height of 600 feet anywhere in the world to date, and that too in such an active seismic region. Furthermore, hundreds of miles of road will have to be widened and strengthened to take the heavy construction machinery to the site before any work can even begin.

As for power generation, electricity from Bhasha will have to be transported over 300 kilometres to Tarbela dam to become part of the national grid — and this will be through some of the harshest terrain in the world in a seismically-active region. Any interruption in power supply in this remote, inaccessible region will make repair a nightmare. Carrying power on the conventional 500 KV lines will mean prohibitive line losses over such a distance. The designers have thought of that and propose to transmit power at 750 KVA but the problem with that is nowhere in the world is 750 KVA switchgear being manufactured and custom-made switchgear will be very expensive.

As for the water situation, the water stored at Bhasha will not be available to NWFP without a right bank canal at the Kalabagh dam and will not be available to north Punjab without a left bank canal at the Kalabagh dam. The Punjab farmer has been praying for a third dam for the last 23 years and Sindh has been blocking it for the same number of years. Now the Punjab farmer will not get any water from the Bhasha dam or any other dam on the Indus in future. And Sindh will get all the water from the Bhasha dam and from all other dams on the Indus in future.

My request to the powers that be is to have pity on the country and not risk the destruction of the whole Indus Valley.

Khurshid Anwer


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