The provinces are likely to have a shortage of water until 2025 as the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) has asked the Indus River System Authority (IRSA) for permission to close Tunnel Five (T5).
The tunnel will be closed for three years for the completion of work on the Tarbela 5th Extension Hydropower Project.
An official source told this scribe that closing T5 for three years will be disastrous for Pakistan’s agriculture and the IRSA cannot take this decision unilaterally. It was revealed that the IRSA had told the WAPDA that around 82,000 cusecs of water are provided to the provinces through T5, and its closure will deprive them of their shares.
IRSA has also asked the WAPDA to develop a consensus among the provinces regarding the closure of T5 as it will severely affect the lower riparian and will impact the water supply for six seasons, the source said.
Earlier, it had been planned that work on the Tarbela 5th Extension Hydropower Project would commence in July 2021, but the IRSA had linked the work on T5 with the completion of work on T3 and T4.
The construction of the Tarbela 5th Extension Project on T5 will cost $807 million, for which $390 million has been funded by the World Bank, and $300 million will be provided by the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
Tarbela is the largest water storage reservoir in Pakistan. The cumulative generation capacity of the Tarbela 5th Extension Hydropower Project is 1,530 MW, with three generating units of 510 MW each. It will be completed by 2025 and will annually provide 1.347 billion units of low-cost hydel electricity to the national grid. Its completion will enhance Tarbela Dam’s generation capacity from 4,888 MW to 6,418 MW.