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Dams Study Emphasizes Diligence in Power Projects

Dams Study Emphasizes Diligence in Power Projects

In Islamabad, a recent study report has advised the government to exercise due diligence and explore alternative methods for electricity generation when planning dams, particularly to address issues such as the displacement of local communities.

Released at a ceremony, the report stressed that dams should not be considered the sole solution for power generation and water storage. It underscored the importance of exploring alternative approaches to mitigate various externalities, especially the displacement of local communities.

The study proposed a due diligence matrix to evaluate every dam proposal/project against alternative proposals, ensuring informed investment decisions. Co-author Asghar Hussain highlighted options such as solar, wind, coal, and other fossil fuels as potential alternatives.

Also Read: Review of Progress on Land Acquisition for Dams in Pakistan

During a roundtable discussion, Dr. Abbas, a prominent water expert, drew attention to the adverse impacts of dam projects on displaced communities, as well as their environmental and geological footprints. He cited the example of Tarbela dam, noting a net loss of over $200 billion due to unaccounted external costs.

Echoing Dr. Abbas’s concerns, Dr. Ahsan Kamal from Quaid-e-Azam University highlighted the devastating impacts of hydropower projects, particularly in the Indus Delta, where millions of people have been displaced.

Representatives of communities affected by projects like Tarbela, Neelum-Jhelum, and Dasu shared their grievances, stating they were neither consulted nor adequately compensated for their losses.

In defense of hydropower projects, Shahid Hamid from Wapda, Imtiaz Hussain Balcoh from Nepra, and Senator Humayun Khan Mohmand of PTI emphasized the necessity of balancing costs and benefits. They argued that these projects had contributed to industrial and agricultural growth in the country, which would have been otherwise impossible.