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Reservoirs and dams in Pakistan

English: Swat Valley, Pakistan
English: Swat Valley, Pakistan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
List of reservoirs and dams in Pakistan
• Diamer-Bhasha Dam
• Gomal Zam Dam Project
• Hub Dam
• Kalabagh Dam
• Karoonjhar Dam
• Mangla Dam
• Mirani Dam
• Namal Dam
• Rawal Dam
• Shadikor Dam
• Tarbela Dam
• Warsak Dam

Diamer-Bhasha dam

Diamer-Bhasha Dam is the name of a dam that has been planned in the Northern Areas of Pakistan on the River Indus. It is located about 314 km upstream of Tarbela Dam and about 165 km downstream of Gilgit. The dam is expected to create a large reservoir with a gross capacity of 7.3 million acre feet (9 km³) submerging large tracts of land in the Diamer district. The dam is supposed to have a power generation capacity of 3.360 megawatts and is expected to considerable ease up the skewed hydro to thermal power generation ratio in Pakistan. It is expected that the detailed drawings of the dam would be completed by March 2008, immediately after which construction work shall begin.


Gomal Zam Dam

Gomal Zam Dam Project is located in Damaan area of NWFP, Pakistan.
Gomal River, on which a 437 feet high Gomal Zam Dam will be built, is one of the significant tributaries of Indus River. It is planned to irrigate about 163,000 acres of land. The total projects costs amounts to Rs. 12 billion. It will be a Roller compacted concrete dam, having a gross storage of 1.14 MAF. It will produce 17.4 MW of electricity when completed. Approximately Rs. 4.388 billion contracts for the construction of Gomal Zam Dam Project were awarded to Messer CWHEC - HPE, a joint venture of two Chinese firms in August 2002.

Hub Dam

Hub Dam is a large water storage reservoir constructed in 1981 on the Hub River on the arid plains north of Karachi on provincial border between Balochistan and Sindh, Pakistan. The reservoir supplies water for irrigation in Lasbela District of Balochistan and drinking water for the city of Karachi. It is an important staging and wintering area for an appreciable number of water birds and contains a variety of fish species which increase in abundance during periods of high water. The Mahseer (Tor putitora), an indigenous riverine fish found in the Hub River, can grow up to 9 feet in length and more than 110 lbs. The Hub reservoir can grow up to 32 square miles and provides for excellent angling.

Kalabagh Dam

The Kalabagh dam is a mega water reservoir that Government of Pakistan is planning to develop across the Indus River, one of the world's largest rivers. The proposed site for the dam is situated at Kalabagh in Mianwali District of the north-west Punjab province, bordering NWFP.
The dam project is a highly controversial and has been so since its inception. In December 2005, General Pervez Musharraf, President of Pakistan, announced that he would definitely build the dam in the larger interest of Pakistan.


The region of Kalabagh was once an autonomous jagir (feudal estate) within Punjab. It was annexed by the Sikhs in 1822. After the British annexed the Punjab, the Nawab of Kalabagh was granted the jagir of Kalabagh, in recognition of his services to the British Raj.
According to the PC-II of the Project, Kalabagh dam was initiated by GOP in 1953, and until 1973, the project was basically considered as a storage project for meeting the irrigation needs, and consequently, rapid increases in the cost of energy have greatly enhanced the priority of the dam as a power project.
The project's paperwork was finalized in March, 1984, with the assistance of the United Nations Development Programme; supervised by the World Bank, for the client Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) of Pakistan.


The proposed construction of the Kalabagh Dam triggered an extremely bitter controversy among the four provinces of Pakistan, namely Punjab, Sindh, North-West Frontier Province, and Balochistan. The only province which is in favor of this dam is Punjab which is the strongest among all four provinces, as usually the government is mainly centralized in it. The other three provinces have expressed extreme dissatisfaction, going so far as to have their provincial assemblies pass unanimous resolutions condemning the proposed dam. Hence, the project is still under consideration.
The delay is also being caused by the fact that according to international water distribution law, the tailender has a legal and natural right on river and that is why no mega construction or reservoir can be built without permission and endorsement of the tailender i.e. Sindh. In the case where the tailender is not using water i.e. building a water reservoir, a reservoir can be made upstream.
Impact assessments of the proposed dam have shown that while it will provide storage and electricity, the dam will also have adverse impacts on the environment, as can be expected from any large dam. It will also displace a large number of people. While proponents point to the benefits, the adverse factors have been played up by the opponents of the dam. As a result, the dam has been stalled by claims and counterclaims since 1984.
The controversy can be best understood by looking at the viewpoints of each of the four provinces.

Punjab viewpoint

Punjab — the granary of Pakistan - desperately needs more water to keep up with the growing population and industrial demands on its agriculture. A dam at Kalabagh would also supply cheap hydro-electric power to the whole country.
The annual outflow of water into the Arabian Sea is considered a "waste" in Punjab, which feels that water can be used to irrigate infertile lands.
Punjab wants not just Kalabagh, but also two more large dams on the Indus, at Bhasha and Skardu/Katzarah. It feels that the Kalabagh site is the most favourable, compared to the other two, and that it should be built first. Bahalwalpur and Bahawalnagar will get most of the water stored in Kalabagh Dam.

Sindh viewpoint

Sindh, the first province to point KBD project a blame game, is the lower riparian and strongest opponent of KBD. But its case mainly against Punjab is more on a conceptual basis of what Sindh thought to be "theft of water by Punjab" rather than locating an actual incident of theft. Sindh supports its argument by stating that by virtue of its name and history of water rights of the province, Indus River belongs exclusively to Sindh. Therefore, claiming the construction of dams, Tarbela and Mangla and now KBD actions of theft of water at the irrigation cost of Sindh. Further, Sindh presents many objections against the proposed dam, some of these objections are as follows:
• Sindh objects that their share of the Indus water will be curtailed as water from the Kalabagh will go to irrigate farmlands in Punjab and NWFP, at their cost. Sindhis hold that their rights as the lower riparian have precedence according to international water distribution law.
• The coastal regions of Sindh require a constant flow of water down the Indus into the Arabian Sea so that the flowing water can keep the seawater from intruding inland. Such seawater intrusion would literally turn vast areas of Sindh's coast into an arid saline desert, and destroy Sindh's coastal mangroves.
• With the construction of dams, such as Mangla Dam and Tarbela Dam across the Indus, Sindhis have seen the once-mighty Indus turned into a shadow of its former glory downstream of the Kotri Barrage up to Hyderabad. They fear that there simply is not enough water for another large dam across the Indus, let alone three.
• The Kalabagh site is located in a highly seismic zone near an active fault, and the underlying rocks are likely to contain numerous fractures, causing the reservoir water to seep through the catacomb of fractures and discharge at the lowest point around the reservoir and the Indus River. 
• Damming the Indus has already caused a number of environmental problems that have not yet addressed. Silt deposited in the proposed Kalabagh dam would further curtail the water storage capacity of Manchar Lake and other lakes and of wetlands like Haleji Lake.
• President General Musharraf and other leaders, such as Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, have promised 'iron-clad' constitutional guarantees to ensure that Sindh gets its fair share of water. However, these assurances mean little to most Sindhis, who claim that even the earlier 1991 Indus Water-Sharing Accord, which is a document already guaranteed by the constitutional body, the Council of Common Interests, has been violated, and that Punjab has "stolen" their water.
The objection to Kalabagh in Sindh is widespread. Even political parties of Sindh that are in the central cabinet and are supported by General Musharraf, such as the MQM, have strongly denounced the dam.

NWFP viewpoint

The NWFP has two main objections to the dam.
• While the reservoir will be in the NWFP, the dam's electricity-generating turbines will be just across the provincial border in Punjab. Therefore, Punjab would get royalties from the central government in Islamabad for generating electricity. Contrary to this, however, Punjab has agreed not to accept any royalties from the Kalabagh Dam. The fact that the NWFP will suffer the adverse consequences of the reservoir but not get royalties is seen as unfair.
• Concerns that large areas of Nowshera district would be submerged by the dam and even wider areas would suffer from water logging and salinity as have occurred with the Tarbela Dam.

Balochistan viewpoint

The Baloch are not directly affected by the dam as such. Rather, most nationalist Baloch Sardars see the dam as another instance of Punjab lording it over the smaller provinces. By opposing the dam they are signaling their disaffection with being the poorest province and most neglected of all in development. In reality Balochistan can only get more water and its due share after the construction of Kalabagh dam and Kachhi canal.


Most independent analysts believe that the foremost problem with the proposed dam at Kalabagh is one of a trust deficit between the Punjab on one side and the other three provinces on the other. The noted columnist, Ayaz Amir suggested that the people of Punjab should redefine their assumptions about the rest of Pakistan and distribution of resources. A layman of Punjab does not understand why the rest of Pakistan does not trust Punjab. The answer, according to Amir, lies in the frequent coups staged by the Pakistan Army (which is overwhelmingly Punjabi in its composition), as well as the Army's extra-constitutional intervention and influence in public sector and civil institutions of the country in general and Sindh in particular. Now no province is ready to trust the Punjab.
All Pakistanis agree that Pakistan faces a severe water shortage, and that some form of water management must be implemented soon. Many point out that even if work on Kalabagh were to start tomorrow, it would still take at least eight years to complete and commission such a large dam. In the meantime, the water situation would continue to worsen. Smaller dams, barrages, and canals must be built before that, and water conservation techniques introduced.
The WAPDA for years repeatedly changed its statistics on the dam, to the point where no-one in Pakistan now believes any of its figures. Government of Pakistan formed a technical committee headed by A. N. G. Abbasi, to study the technical merits of the Kalabagh dam vis-à-vis the other two. The four-volume technical report concluded that Bhasha or Katzarah dam should be built before Kalabagh, further complicating matters. To make matters even more complex, the report also stated that Kalabagh and Bhasha Dams could be considered feasible
The abrupt way in which President General Musharraf announced the decision to build the dam, simply overruling the objections of the smaller states, has sharply polarised public opinion. In Punjab the view is one of "...it’s high time!" while in the other states, especially Sindh, the reaction has been one of "...over my dead body!”
The fact that the General literally dragged so controversial an issue off the backburner and thrust it into national centre stage without considering the predictable reactions from the smaller provinces has left many aghast. Much has been said in the press, and the issue is still far from being resolved.

Karoonjhar Dam

Karoonjhar Dam is a dam in Tharparkar, Sindh, Pakistan.

Mangla Dam

The Mangla Dam in Azad Jammu Kashmir (Pakistani or Free Kashmir) is the twelfth largest dam in the world. It was built in 1967 with funding from the World Bank.

Historic development

As part of the Indus Waters Treaty signed in 1960, India gained rights to the waters of the Ravi, Sutlej and Beas rivers, while Pakistan, in addition to waters of the above three rivers within Pakistan and some monetary compensation, received the rights to develop the Jhelum, Chenab and Indus river basins through construction of the Indus Basin Project. Until 1967, the entire irrigation system of Pakistan was fully dependent on unregulated flows of the Indus and its major tributaries. The agricultural yield was very low for a number of reasons, the most important being a lack of water during critical growing periods. This problem stemmed from the seasonal variations in the river flow due to monsoons and the absence of storage reservoirs to conserve the vast amounts of surplus water during those periods of high river discharge. 
The Mangla Dam was the first development project undertaken to reduce this shortcoming and strengthen the irrigation system. The dam was damaged partially during an Indian Air Force bombing in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 when the hydro project was hit by the bombs. 

The Mangla Dam project

The Mangla Dam is the twelfth largest dam in the world. It was constructed in 1967 across the Jhelum River, about 100 miles (160 km) south-east of the Pakistani capital, Islamabad. The main structures of the dam include 4 embankment dams, 2 spillways, 5 power-cum-irrigation tunnels and a power station.
The main dam is 10,300 feet (3140 m) long and 454 feet (138 m) high (above core trench) with a reservoir of 97.7 square miles (253 km²). Since its first impounding in 1967, sedimentation has occurred to the extent of 1.13 million acre feet (1.39 km³), and the present gross storage capacity has declined to 4.75 million acre feet (5.86 km³) from the actual design of 5.88 million acre feet (7.25 km³). The live capacity has declined to 4.58 million acre feet (5.65 km³) from 5.34 million acre feet (6.59 km³). This implies a reduction of 19.22% in the capacity of the dam.
The project was designed primarily to increase the amount of water that could be used for irrigation from the flow of the Jhelum and its tributaries. Its secondary function was to generate electrical power from the irrigation releases at the artificial head of the reservoir. The project was not designed as a flood controls structure, although some benefit in this respect also arises from its use for irrigation and water supply. The Government of Pakistan had agreed to pay royalties to the Government of Azad (Free) Jammu Kashmir for the use of the water and electricity generated by the dam. Over 280 villages and the towns of Mirpur and Dadyal were submerged and over 110,000 people were displaced from the area as a result of the dam being built. Some of those affected by the dam were given work permits for Britain by the Government of Pakistan, and as a result, in many cities in the UK over 80% of the 'Pakistani' community actually originated from the Mirpur area of Azad Jammu Kashmir. The dam is undergoing uprising work.
Mangla Dam is about a 100 miles (160 km) south-east of the Pakistani capital, Islamabad while Tarbela Dam is 60 miles (100 km) northwest.

Mirani Dam

Mirani Dam is located in Gwadar District, Balochistan, Pakistan. Mirani Dam multipurpose project, is located on Dasht River, about 30 miles west of Turbat in Makran Division of Balochistan, it envisages provision of dependable irrigation supplies on the two banks of the river. The project has been completed in November 2006 and inaugurated by President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan

Namal lake

Namal Lake is located in one corner of the Namal valley in Mianwali, Punjab, Pakistan. This lake was created when Namal Dam was constructed in 1913. Namal Dam is situated some 32 km from Mianwali city. The lake has a surface area of 5.5 km². There are mountains on its western and southern sides. On the other two sides are agricultural areas.
Namal Lake is an ideal abode for the migratory birds in winter season when thousands of water fowls, including Russian ducks and Siberian cranes, land in the lake water.
In 1913, British engineers, to meet the scarcity of irrigation and drinking water, built a dam on this namal lake and from here they irrigated lands up to Mianwali city. But with the passage of time and construction of Thal Canal and installation of tubewells, its utility of water squeezed up to some limit.
The gates of the dam are repaired by the irrigation department regularly but without enthusiasm. The hill torrents and rains fill the Namal Lake round the year. Due to a drought-like situation in the country, this lake dried up last year, which is the first incident of its kind during the last 100 years.

Shakidor Dam

The Shakidor (Shadi Kor) dam is located near Pasni, in the Balochistan province of south west Pakistan, 1,900 km (1,180 miles) from Islamabad and has a length of about 148 meters (485 feet). It was built in 2003, at a cost of 45 million rupees (758,853 dollars), to provide irrigation water to the nearby farms.
On February 10, 2005, the dam burst under the pressure of a weeks' worth of rain, killing at least 70 villagers and dragging their bodies to the Arabian Sea. The Pakistani military was sent into emergency Search and Rescue operations, saving 1,200 people.

Tarbela Dam

Tarbela Dam (or the National Dam) is a large dam on the Indus River in Pakistan. It is located about 50 kilometers northwest of Islamabad, and a height of 485 ft above the river bed and a reservoir size of 95 sq miles makes it the largest earth filled dam in the world. The dam was completed in 1974 and was designed to store water from the Indus River for irrigation and flood control, and for the generation of hydro-electric power.
The Tarbela Dam is a major source of Pakistan's total hydroelectric capacity. It is part of the Indus Basin Project which resulted from a water treaty signed in 1960 between India and Pakistan guaranteeing Pakistan water supplies independent of upstream control by India. The project was funded by the World Bank. Construction began in 1968, and continued until completion in 1976. The dam has a volume of 138,600,000 cubic yards (106,000,000 m³). With a reservoir capacity of 11,098,000 acre-feet (13.69 km³), the dam is approximately 143 m high and 8,997 feet (2,743 m) wide at its crest. It helps to maintain the flow of the Indus during seasonal fluctuations. 
A new, smaller hydro-electric power project has been developed downstream known as the Ghazi Barotha Hydel Power Project. It is solely for generating electricity and has a water channel with the highest flow in the world.
While the dam has fulfilled its purpose in storing water for agricultural use in Pakistan, there have been environmental consequences to the Indus river delta. Reduction of seasonal flooding and reduced water flows to the delta has decreased mangrove stands and the abundance of some fish species.
Tarbela is a beautiful valley surrounded by mountains. It is divided in different colonies like Sobra City, Right Bank Colony, Sanobar Colony and Mehran Colony. Many of the residents are employees of the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) of Pakistan.
A recent novel, "Tarbela damned - Pakistan tamed" is based on a plan to sabotage the dam and threaten Pakistan's economy.

Warsak dam

Warsak Hydro Electric Power Project is located on River Kabul at about 30 km from Peshawar in North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan. The project financed by Canadian Government was completed under COLOMBO PLAN in two phases. In general, the project consists of a mass concrete gravity dam with integral spillway, power tunnel, power station, a concrete lined 10 feet diameter irrigation tunnel on right bank and a 3 feet diameter steel pipe irrigation conduit on the left bank of the reservoir. The 250 ft. high and 460 ft. long dam with reservoir of 4 square miles had a live storage capacity of 25,300 acre-feet of water for irrigation of 119,000 acres of land and meeting power generation requirement. A spillway with nine gates is capable to discharge 540,000 cusecs of flood water.
Power Station
The first phase including construction of Dam, Irrigation tunnel, civil works for Phase-II and installation of four units each of 40 MW capacities with 132 KV transmission systems, was completed in 1960 at a total cost of Rs.394.98 million. Two additional generating units each of 40 MW capacities were added in 1980-81 at a cost of Rs.106.25 million as second phase of the project. 
Warsak Dam has now completely silted up and practically there is no available storage. Power generation is being achieved according to water inflows in River Kabul like a "Run-of-the-River' project. Lean flow period at Warsak is observed from October to March during which capability reduces to about 100 MW (Peak). 
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