Research Analyst
Apr 16 - 22, 2012

In past, dams were built for the single purpose of water supply or irrigation. As civilizations developed, there was a greater need for water supply, irrigation, flood control, navigation, water quality, sediment control and energy. Now, dams are constructed for energy generation and flood control besides supplying water to home, industries, and agricultural lands. The multipurpose dam is a very important for developing countries because the population receives domestic and economic benefits from a single investment.

In Pakistan, the per capita water demand for water is increasing day by day as population has reached nearly 18 million.

The per capita surface water availability was 5,260 cubic metres (186,000 cu ft) in 1951, when population was 34 million in the country, which fell to 1,038 cubic metres (36,700 cu ft) in 2010 when the estimated population was 172 million. The minimum water requirement is 1,000 cubic metres (35,000 cu ft) to avert water shortage.

Pakistan has not been able to build even a single large dam after Tarbela Dam in 1976 whereas India has built more than 33 large dams since then.

The dams solve many problems of communities and provide basis for sustainable economic development.

Presently, there is a need to build more dams in the country like Kalabagh dam, which has been controversial among three provinces including Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa since its inception. Punjab is the only province in favor of the dam. The other two provinces have expressed dissatisfaction: their provincial assemblies passed unanimous resolutions rejecting the proposed dam.

The storage of water in the Kalabagh dam can increase the fertility of Pakistani land that can increase GDP. If Kalabagh dam project is not built, there will be irreparable loss to the economy. Building of five proposed dams including Munda dam, Kurram Tangi dam, Akhori dam and Kalabagh dam at least by 2025 will store water and generate electricity to meet the demand in the country.


One of the fundamental requirements for socioeconomic development in the country is the availability of adequate quantities of water with the appropriate quality. In the country, large urban areas depend heavily on water stored in reservoirs during high flows and use it during periods of low rainfall.

It was estimated that eight per cent of the total available water resources of Pakistan is used domestically while 92 per cent for irrigation. Water stored in reservoirs is also used for industrial sector, which accounts for about 24 per cent of GDP in the country. This ranges from the direct use in chemical and refining processes to cooling for conventional and nuclear power production.


One of the biggest benefits of dam is agricultural irrigation and flood control. The widespread measures to conserve water by improvements in irrigation technology, construction of more dams are needed. The country has one of the best irrigation systems along the fertile plains which can produce exportable surplus of agricultural products if the under construction dams will be completed on time.

Dams can be effectively used to regulate river levels and flooding downstream of the dam by temporarily storing the flood volume and releasing it later. The most effective method of flood control is accomplished by a number of multipurpose dams strategically located in Pakistan.

Furthermore, floodwater swept away and hit the remotest parts of Pakistan, where the destruction of roads and telephone networks complicated the task of assessing the damage last years. During the years, the floods triggered by heavy monsoon rains in Sindh caused an estimated loss of $7 billion to the agrarian economy of the country as over 2.5 million bales of cotton, two million tons of Irri-6 rice, four million tons of sugarcane and many other small crops were destroyed besides killing 0.1 million cattle head in the province.


The dams can be used for the generation of the cleanest form of energy namely hydropower. Pakistan has a few dams, which cause energy crisis. Presently, it is expected that the World Bank will provide about $850 million for the fourth Tarbela extension project in Pakistan and to be completed in four years. This project will generate an additional 1,410 mw of electricity. After completion of the extension project, the generation capacity of Tarbela power station will rise to 4,888 mw.


No doubt, water is the vital resource to support all forms of life on earth. Unfortunately, it is not evenly distributed in Pakistan by season or location. Some parts of the country are prone to drought making water a scarce and precious commodity, while in other parts it appears in raging torrents causing floods and loss of life and property. Therefore, for economic growth and development, there is a dire need to build more dams in Pakistan.


Gomal Zam Dam Khyber
12,829 1.14 163,086 70% Physically Completed
Greater Thal Canal Punjab 30,467 - 355,000 Phase-I, Completed
Rainee Canal Sindh 18,862 - 113,690 91% Physically Comp. Phase-I
Kachhi Canal Balochistan 31,204 - 102,000 60% Physically Comp. Phase-I
Raising of Mangla Dam AJ&K 62,553 2.90 713,000 All over Pakistan 93% Physically Comp.
Satpara Dam Multi- purpose Right Bank OutfallDrain (RBOD) Skardu 4,397 0.05 15,536 93% Physically Comp.
RBOD-I Sindh 14,707 - - 87% Physically Comp.
RBOD-II Sindh 29,014 - - 62% Physically Comp.
RBOD-III Balochistan 6,535 - - 72% Physically Comp.