Research Analyst
July 05 - 11, 2010

Pakistan is highly dependent on agriculture, which in turn is dependent on water. Of the 79.6 million hectares of total land in the country, 20 million are available for agricultural. Of those 20 million hectares, 16 million are dependent on irrigation. It is estimated that up to 90 per cent of Pakistan's agriculture is dependent on irrigation. An even more important fact is that many of Pakistan's industries are agro-based, such as the textile industry.

Major agricultural areas lie within the plains formed by Indus River and its tributaries namely Kabul, Chenab, Ravi, Jhelum and Sutlej. Indus plains are like a tunnel with number of water sources at the top, converging into single stream, which flows into the Arabian Sea, near the city of Karachi. After independence in 1947, many more developments in the canal systems were made.


The world's largest earth-filled dam on one of the world's most important rivers - the Indus - has 103 km distance from Rawalpindi. The dam was completed in 1976 at a cost of Rs18.5 billion. It is the biggest hydropower station in Pakistan having a capacity of generating 3,478 MW of electricity. Its reservoir is 97 km long with a depth of 137 meters while total area of the lake is 260 Sq Km.


The Mangla Dam on the River Jhelum is one of the longest earth-fill dams in the world. World's third largest earth-filled dam is only 115 km south-east of Rawalpindi. The dam is 3,353 meters long and 116 meters high above the river bed with a crest elevation of 1,234 feet. It is designed to store 5.88 MAF water and also used for power generation.

Mangla Dam has two spillways on the right side. The main spillway has a normal service capacity of 900,000 cusecs. It has nine gates 36 feet wide and 40 feet high. The second is an emergency spillway. Its design provides for a future increase of 48 feet in height.


Diamer-Bhasha Dam will be the highest Roller Compacted Concrete Dam in the world, height of 272 meters spillway with fourteen gates each 11.5 m x 16.24 m and impound a reservoir of about 7,500,000 acre feet, with live storage of more than 6,400,000 acre feet. Mean annual discharge of Indus River at the site is 50,000,000 acre feet. The gross capacity of the reservoir will be 8.1 MAF, with a live storage of 6.4 MAF. Scheduled completion period of the project is 2009 to 2016, at a tentative cost of US$12.6 billion.

The project is located at Indus River, about 315 km upstream of Tarbela Dam, 165 km downstream of the Northern Area capital Gilgit and 40 km downstream of Chilas.


The Kalabagh dam is a proposed hydroelectric dam planned to be built on the Indus River. The proposed site for the dam was situated at Kalabagh in Mianwali District of the Punjab province, bordering the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The dam project was controversial since its inception. In December 2005, the government announced that it would build the dam in the larger interest of Pakistan. In May 26, 2008, Federal Minister for Water and Power of Pakistan said that the Kalabagh Dam would not be constructed and the project is now postponed due to the controversy among the four provinces of Pakistan.


Gomal Zam Dam NWFP 12,829 1.14 163,086
Greater Thal Canal Punjab 30,467 - 1,534,000
Rainee Canal Sindh 18,862 - 412,000
Kachhi Canal Baloc 31,204 - 713,000
Sabakzai Dam Baloc 1,577 0.02 6,680
Raising of Mangla Dam (30 ft) AJ&K 62,553 2.9 Throughout Pak
Satpara Dam Multi- purpose Skardu 2,090 0.05 15,536
Diamer Basha Dam Project N.A & NWFP Cost not Yet final 6.4 Feasibility in progress
Kurram Tangi Dam NWFP 17,205 0.83 362,380


The gigantic multipurpose Warsak Dam on River Kabul is situated 30 KMs northwest of Peshawar in the heart of tribal territory. It has a total generating capacity of 240,000 KW and will eventually serve to irrigate 110,000 acres of land. The 250 ft. high and 460 ft. long dam with reservoir of four square miles has 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.


Khanpur Dam has been constructed in a narrow gorge on the Haro River. This beautiful lake/dam is 48 km from Islamabad on Taxila-Haripur Road. It is a multipurpose project which supplies drinking water to Islamabad and Rawalpindi and irrigation water to NWFP (110 cusecs) and Punjab (87 cusecs). The dam is 167 feet high and stores 106,000 acre feet of water. Construction was started in 1968 and completed in 1983 at a cost of Rs1352 million.


Misriot dam is located 12 km south-west of Rawalpindi. This small dam has an artificial lake with boating and fishing facilities. Fishing permit may be obtained from fishing guard at Misriot. The Tanaza Dam is a small dam located at about 35 Km southwest of Rawalpindi on Dhamial Road. Ideal for a day trip, the lake has a quiet atmosphere.


Due to lack of large river regulation capability through sizeable storages, the country is already facing serious shortages in food grains. Given the present trend, Pakistan could soon become food deficit countries. Therefore, there is a dire need to build dams like Diamer and Kalabagh.